of the

by Paul R. Seibert

© 2002 Paul R. Seibert. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

ISBN: 1-4107-4186-9 (electronic) ISBN: 1-4107-4185-0 (Paperback) ISBN: 1-4107-4184-2 (Hardcover)

Prologue
Every year there is a brief time when all of mankind, most unknowingly, stand at the edge of reality. This timeline runs from midnight on the Wiccan New Year of October 31st, O’Hallows Eve, through the Day of the Dead on November 1st, and up to midnight on the Day of Souls on November 2nd. For these few days, the barrier between the Physical Realm we call Reality, where we think we exist, and the Spiritual World, commonly referred to as the Supernatural or Astral Plane, is at its most diminished. During this timeline, the veil that separates these two worlds is so thin it can be breached. The name of this period of time is known as…

“The Season of the Dead”

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Chapter One
The evening sun starts to set on New Orleans’ infamous French Quarter and night starts to fall on the city just as it does every weekend. However, an unsuspecting man is soon to learn this is not like any other weekend, and he is not alone in his never-ending trek to quench his thirsts and satisfy his hunger. The man, a street person, one of many lost souls that end up on Bourbon Street, looking in appearance to be in his late forties, is a local of sorts now. He walks the street making his rounds, stopping from time to time to refill his drink at the local bars with the discarded drinks of the many tourists. As he arrives in front of another little pub, he looks around to see if anyone is watching. Satisfied that the doorman has stepped away for the moment, he bends over to look at what refreshments have been left behind at this establishment. He peers down into the thirty-gallon trashcan and spots a cup of red liquid. Oh yes, he thinks to himself, a Hurricane, the drink for which New Orleans is famous. He reaches in to get it and as soon as he gets a grip on the cup, out walks the doorman. “Get outta here, ya old bum!” the doorman says very irritably. He can see the man has his hand on the cup and as he looks into his eyes he can see the emptiness of his soul and for a second, he feels a little compassion. “Oh, go ahead and take it. Just hurry up and get going before the manager comes back.” The man fumbles as his hands shake while pouring the liquid from the beaten up paper cup into his plastic one. He nods appreciatively and heads on his way sipping his drink as he goes. The raggedy man walks and sips on his semi-fresh drink and thinks about a time, not so long ago, when he could have owned ten places like that for fun. Stupid ass college kids like that would have been working for him.

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Instead, he’s digging inside of trashcans for drinks living here on the streets with no wife, no job, and no way back. Ah shit, he thinks, the bitch never did like New Orleans. Every time she and the kids came here, all she did was complain about how the humidity always messed up her hair. He continues up the street looking for his home for the night. He spots a recessed area by an ATM machine. It is dimly lit and he knows this ATM gets very little traffic, if any, because everybody is afraid of being robbed. He figures he doesn’t have to worry. All he has are his clothes and few bucks from cleaning up restrooms at a bar the other day. No one will bother his sleep here. He walks toward it and plops himself down in the corner spilling part of his drink. “Shit,” he says, while finishing the last of his drink. He proceeds to curl up, wrapping himself as best he can with his old soiled coat. Then he slips off into his nightly coma never realizing that this is a night from which he will never awake. Hours pass, and a young man glides up on a skateboard, stopping just past the little alcove. He surveys the street for any possible onlookers. Seeing no one, he picks up the skateboard and walks over toward the man. Then, kneeling down as if to tie his boots, he gently shakes the man ever so slightly, testing to see if he can disturb the man from his slumber. The old man never flinches, nor does he so much as even change his breathing pattern. He decides that the old bum is definitely out for the count, so he checks him for a wallet. He gently pats the old man down discovering, a lump in the old tattered military style coat. There must be an inner pocket, he thinks to himself, and reaches inside to pull out the prize. Retrieving an old wallet, he opens it quickly, keeping one eye on the older man as he sleeps. As he empties it, a picture falls out of what appears to be the old man’s family. There is a nicely dressed woman leaning up against some sort of sport utility vehicle and two kids looking to be in their teens, one a boy and the other a girl. The young man picks it up, stares a second, then tosses it down. He continues his inspection, looking in the main compartment finding a few bills, a ten and some ones. Oh what the hell, the young man thinks, it’ll get me in somewhere later. He puts the money in the front pocket of his jeans and looks down at his recent larceny victim. “Oh well, old man,” he whispers, “looks like this ain’t your lucky night. Especially since we haven’t eaten yet.”

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Slowly and methodically, once again, he surveys the area to see if any one is near. Then, with a single bound, he jumps up and breaks out the light in the center of the fifteen foot awning with a grace and ease that would make any basketball coach drool, returning to earth as soft as a feather, making virtually no sound as his feet land back on the concrete. The old bum never knows he is the main course in tonight’s feast. Now that the light has been extinguished, more figures appear in the opening of the little recession. Only the soft glow from the teller machine gives shape to their forms. The young man who first had found the old man looks at the others, now with eyes glowing red and fangs bared. “Dinner is served.” With that he spins, gesturing with his arms as one would over a banquet table down toward the still comatose man. The figures attack, including the first. Now the old man opens his eyes, waking to find himself being ravaged by a merciless barrage of razor sharp teeth, all biting and tearing at his flesh as if they were wild dogs. Even the numbing effect of the alcohol disappears as his fear sobers him quickly and he tries to scream. But the air never reaches his throat because the first one’s attack rips the old man's throat, completely severing his Adam’s apple and removing his windpipe. The air, which was intended to vocalize his horror through a scream, now only escapes through the gaping hole in his neck, exiting his body with a muffled gurgle, sounding like a scream under water. In his last moments of life, the old man sees his throat in the mouth of an attacker. He dies with a horror in his eyes that could be understood only by a person who has been attacked by a shark and realizes, for one brief moment, that man is not always at the top of the food chain. Once the frenzy starts, it doesn’t end until all are satisfied. There are six quarts of blood in the human body, and almost none is wasted in the feeding. Somehow in his clawing at the concrete during the first seconds of the attack, the old man grabbed the photo of his past life and family that had fallen on the ground. When they finish, the old bum lay there, lifeless and shredded. He died never knowing what killed him or that he had died with his family by his side. Suddenly there is a noise, footsteps coming down the street and the sound of conversation. It appears to be two gay men, obviously drunk and completely oblivious to anything around them except each other. As the two men approach, most of the figures who were feeding just moments before scurry like rats out into the street and off into the darkness from which they came. The first young man opts to stay, deciding that the two men are too close and he would draw to much attention with his skateboard at this point. Once again he leaps this time landing on a ledge about ten feet up, which
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runs the inner perimeter of the little area. He sticks close to the wall, disappearing from sight in the darkness save the red glow from his eyes. The two men pass by the opening at a distance, a little too far to notice the young man’s skateboard or that the man on the ground is anything more than another harmless street person who has passed out for the night. The older of the two men looks at the other and says, “I need some money.” Then he starts to walk over toward the automatic teller machine. The younger man grabs the arm and then the butt of his friend, causing the older man to stop just a few feet from the entrance. “Why? You’re already paid up for the night,” he says jokingly. “Can’t you wait and do that tomorrow? You need to be thinking about doing me right now. Let’s go home.” They kiss and walk off into the night holding hands, neither one knowing how close they had come to death. The young man jumps to the ground grabbing up his skateboard and rides off back toward Bourbon Street and his favorite Friday night hunting ground and hangout, the Underground Dungeon.

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Chapter Two
While the old bum is looking for his lost soul in garbage cans and discarded drinks, elsewhere in the French Quarter another man is staring out over the city, searching for his lost soul in his own way. He stands on the balcony with the blank expressionless stare of one who is lost in thought. With a full moon on the Day of Souls in the year of the true millennium, the ancient prophecies were at hand, the ones that foretold of the gates of Hell opening and the beginning of the empire of one of Hell’s most evil dwellers. The man knows New Orleans is the perfect place for this newly formed army of the undead to converge. It is a city with a rich history of the occult and black magic. This evil could start like a ripple in a pond and spread until it consumed everything, without ever being noticed. With a new casino in the city, and with more hotels than ever, all full, this year’s celebration could be expected to be one of the biggest Halloweens in the history of the city, the streets jammed with loads of tourists and unknown transients. This is the kind of celebration the evil one waits for, a situation that provides unbridled feeding frenzies for the creatures of the night. He knows his evil benefactor will be there, leading the damned. He can feel their presence and this time he will have only one week to be ready. He watches the sun setting and his mind drifts back to a time when his body was alive with a mortal soul, when he was a warrior and roamed with the freedom associated with being the leader of band of well-seasoned warriors. He was the son of a fierce Viking king forged as a leader since birth. He remembers the battles he fought, the riches he plundered, and the women he conquered. The entire world was his to explore, and life was his for the living, giving or taking whenever he so desired. At times it seems like only yesterday; still yet again, sometimes far away and lost as if in the mist of the cold Norse fog. The only thing that is truly clear was the night it all ended.

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As his mind drifts back to that fateful night, his jaw tightens and his fists clench the balcony’s rail, and he remembers the attack that had come out of nowhere. He had been in battles before and seen death hundreds of times, being no stranger to all of its brutality, but nothing like this. No living creature, man, or beast in the wild could have ever perpetrated such a horror against his men, at least none that he knew of before that solemn night. It was as if they were being slaughtered like animals. He watched as his men fell one by one, some with their limbs literally ripped from their bodies. The only way to kill the attackers was to behead them but they were so many and they were inhumanly strong. Jon’s mind clears and returns to the present. He takes another sip and finishes the mixture of blood and wine while he watches the last of the sun disappear. As he drinks, again his mind drifts to the past almost unconsciously, and he loses his conscious grasp of present reality this time. It is as if he is living the massacre for real. His mind carries him back to the moment when he is the last one standing, his fallen men’s bodies littering the ground. He looks around, watching in disgust and mortal horror as the mangled flesh of his fallen friends and comrades are being fed upon as if they were animals, but strangely only the ones that are not dead. He hears the popping of their bones as their flesh is being ripped from them along with the slurping noises as the final bit of life’s blood is being sucked out of them. Then he looks upwards into the glaring eyes of yet another beast, now standing right in front of him. Barely having the strength to hold the sword of his father he attempts to attack, but he is no match for the inhuman creature facing him. A hand, resembling nothing human, but more so like a demon or monster from legends told by the old, reaches out from the cloak that covers it and grabs the heavy steel sword from him in mid swing. Then with ease and fluid grace, the unholy monstrosity snaps the blade in its hands. He falls to his knees from exhaustion and horrified amazement at the sight of this exhibition. The large beast drops the broken blade and steps aside. All mutilations now stop, as out of the mist walks the leader of this hellish band. All part their ranks to clear a path for this new robed figure, which is smaller in size than the others. As the figure approaches, he thinks he hears a voice, but it is not like the sound of spoken words carried on breath and air, it is more like a thought in his head. “You are strong, Northman. I have waited many years for one such as you. You are the one who will lead my legion and you shall serve only me until the time of the Master's return.” With this proclamation, the others raise Jon up like a sacrifice to a god. The last thing he feels is a sharp pain in
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his chest, right above his heart, like that of two daggers piercing him and his life force being drained from him. Then, just before consciousness leaves him, the voice says, “Now you are one of us.” And thus ended the mortal life of Jon Erik Garneau and began his life of eternal death. Jon’s grip increases on the glass, shattering it and embedding shards of glass into Jon’s hands, clearing his mind as he returns to the present. As he regains his grip on the here and now, he hears laughter, as a small band of festive tourists passes under his balcony on the street below. A small child wearing a Halloween mask sitting on the shoulders of a person who appears to be her father looks up. Seeing Jon she yells, “Trick or treat. Throw me something mister!” as she stretches out her arms in expectation of reward. “Do you have any candy?” He replies by spreading his arms in a gesture that implies he does not. “How ‘bout some beads?” she inquires further. “Sorry,” Jon says. “Thanks anyway, mister. Happy Halloween!” The child waves and the merry band continues on its way. A slight trickle of blood seeps from his wounds as he pulls the pieces of the broken glass from his hand, then it heals immediately. Jon stares out as the darkness starts to engulf the city and he wonders if this part of his curse is the best or the worst part. He feels the warmth and basks in the last rays of light almost reverently. It’s as if God Himself is taunting Jon. Reminding him of his eternal penitence for all he has done as one of the eternally cursed. Laughing in his face at what he used to be and at what he could never truly be again, a man with a mortal soul. Only the few Vampires of purest descent have the strength to endure this gift of sunshine. It was unknowingly bestowed on him to allow him to stay alongside his creator. But Jon knows not to make this an everyday habit because he is much more vulnerable in the sun’s rays. Still, it is one of the very few human pleasures that have kept him from becoming a total creature of darkness, thus allowing him to not completely lose what was once the man in him and maybe hold onto a small piece of his humanity, if not his soul. Jon picks up the remaining pieces of the fragmented wine glass scattered by his feet, then turns and walks in from the balcony entering his lavish townhouse where he stays while in New Orleans. It used to be one of the old Confederate Militia Barracks. He purchased the three-story building a few years back and completely renovated the old tenement housing from

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ten separate lofts to one magnificent two-story loft style townhouse on the second and third floors with the ground floor as a garage. The first floor of the townhouse resembles a lavish style hotel rather than an apartment. It has an enormous open foyer-like area with a fully stocked wet bar that is used as the living room. Attached at the far end of this is the guest bedroom. There is an elevator, which travels to all three levels and is situated behind a spiral staircase that leads to the second floor. The second floor is a huge loft that functions as his bedroom and office, and is considerably more contemporary in appearance and décor. It houses the latest state-of-the-art home electronics and ultra-modern furniture including a California style, king-size bed. Jon bought the building because one of his very few friends over the years had lived in it during the Civil War. He was later killed in the battle at Gettysburg. Jon always thought it been a wasteful death. Jon had seen many wars come and go along with many people in his almost twelve hundred years of death, being none too innocent in the demise of many a life himself. As Jon walks across the room he places the pieces of the wine glass on the bar’s counter top then walks over to pick up a black leather jacket that has been draped across the back of a chair. He then walks over to the elevator, which is situated slightly behind the spiral staircase. Closing the gate-like door, he pushes a button and the elevator starts to descend to the first floor garage, which houses a few examples of Jon’s collection of cars and motorcycles. He had always been fascinated with such things and he still owned one of the first cars to roll off the assembly line of the Ford Motor Company. He keeps the car in storage, along with most of the rest of his collection in a private garage in upper Manhattan. He kept only a few paragons of his collection here including some of his all time favorites. His most prized of these include an authentic 1967 Cobra, built specially for him by Carol Shelby himself, a 2000 Dodge Viper R/T, and a hand-made, radically customized Jesse James Diablo motorcycle that he had built in California, all of which were in showroom floor condition. He steps out of the elevator and walks over to the Viper. The custom pearl black paint glistens under the fluorescent light. Jon opens the door and gets in. He reaches over, opens the glove box, removes a CD, then presses a button inside that activates the door to the garage and presses a second one that opens the gate of the eight-foot wall that surrounds the building. The gate slides open as he removes the CD from its case and inserts it into the player. Music erupts from the speakers as the powerful 550-horse power V10 turns over. Jon decides to start uptown
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tonight as he drives the car onto the street and out of the French Quarter. He gets on the ramp for the highway, punches the accelerator and the car lunges from 30 mph to 80 in seconds. As the wind races by his head, he flies past cars on his way toward St. Charles Avenue and the historical Garden District area. Once uptown Jon parks his car and enters a restaurant. Upon entering, the hostess, a college student, stares for a second, obviously taken by Jon’s appearance. Jon, who looks to be in his early thirties, removes his coat and runs his hands through his long, thick dark hair that lies just over his shoulders. With piercing steel blues, his face is ruggedly handsome and has a neatly trimmed mustache and goatee. His frame is solid with a better than average build and he is wearing blue jeans with a belt, black boots and a black T-shirt that fits his frame snuggly. The hostess quickly regains her composure, smiles and speaks. “Only one tonight, sir?” Jon nods affirmatively his reply. “Would you like a table or would you prefer to sit at a booth by the bar?” Jon thinks for a second. “The bar will be fine,” he replies. The hostess gestures and says, “Right this way, sir.” Jon picks a small booth in the back corner where the light is slightly dimmer. The hostess leaves a menu, smiles, and returns to her station by the door. Jon stares at the menu thinking how long it has been since he has eaten and enjoyed real food. This sustenance was ritual for his own personal bit of sanity, not out of any need for nourishment, as real food could not accommodate that. It was a habit he kept to maintain a more human appearance, a habit, which has helped him over the years to avoid detection. Another figure appears by the table. “Decided on anything yet?” Jon looks up to see what appears to be the bartender. She is an extremely attractive girl about five feet two inches tall with reddish auburn hair and blue-green eyes. She has a very nice petite figure, the outline of which is accented by the tight Polo style shirt she is wearing. “Yes,” Jon replies. “A steak, very rare, please.” She writes on her pad. “Baked potato or salad with that?” “Neither,” Jon replies “just the steak.” “Are you sure? It is included with the meal.” “No, nothing else, I have to maintain a special diet.” “What would you like to drink?” “Wine, red wine,” Jon replies.
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She continues to write then looks up from her pad. “Anything else?” Jon shakes his head no and says, “Not at the moment. Thank you.” “Alright then, my name is Jennifer and I am the waitress and bartender, so if you need anything else just let me know. I’ll be right back with your drink.” She turns and heads back to the bar. Jon’s steely blue eyes follow her the entire way. It is not often that anyone catches his eye in such an intriguing way, the last time was quite a few years back, hundreds to be exact. She returns with the wine quickly. “Here you are, sir. Your steak will be ready shortly.” Smiling, she turns and heads back behind the bar. Jon sips the wine thinking how he wishes he could get drunk. A seemingly meaningless wish to a human, but to one whose senses are so acutely attuned, the numbing feeling that alcohol brings would be nice. Jennifer returns once more with the steak. She places it on the table, smiles, and then leaves again. Glaring at the food Jon thinks of a time many years ago when he would have killed for a meal such as this and now all he can do is stare, for the animal flesh, especially cooked, is very unsatisfying even when it is as rare as this. Nevertheless, Jon cuts into it watching the part that does offer a small sustenance, the bloody broth, run onto his plate. He takes a bite forcing himself to chew and swallow. The taste is bitter but there is enough blood in the meat to make it bearable and abate his thirst, at least for now. A few more forced bites and he is finished. Jennifer returns. “Is everything alright sir? Is your food okay?” “Yes, fine, I guess I just wasn’t as hungry as I thought.” She takes the plate and asks if he would like some more wine. Jon says he is fine for the moment but that he will move to the bar to free up the table and they both head toward the bar. “The crowd is picking up in here,” he says, while seating himself on a stool. Jennifer turns around and smiles, “Yes, it is. People getting in early before hitting the bars I guess. Would you like another?” she asks, pointing to his empty glass. “Yes, please.” Jon replies. She places another glass in front of him. “Are you driving? You didn’t eat very much." “Don’t worry,” Jon says, “it takes a lot more than this to affect me, I’ll be fine.” “Okay, just checking,” she says. “You seem nice and I would hate for you to get into an accident or something.” She moves her hand from the
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glass and Jon continues to sip. “You have an accent; you’re not from around here are you?” Jennifer asks. “No, I own property and have business investments here, so from time to time I visit to attend to things,” Jon replies. “But this trip is strictly for pleasure.” “Well, be careful while you’re here this time. Being the Halloween party weekend, and almost a full moon to boot, all the crazies are out. Seems like this city gets weirder every year,” she says with a genuine earnestness in her voice. “I’ll remember that. But I can usually take care of myself,” he says as he sips his wine again. “Do you work here all of the time?” Jon asks. “Yeah, when I’m not studying for a test I’m here,” she replies. “Seems like all I see anymore is school, this bar, and my bed. Exciting life of a college student, huh?” she says while ringing up a bill from one of the waitresses. “You look like you have already graduated,” Jon says. “I did,” she says. “I had a double Major, a four year degree in Liberal Arts and a five year degree in marriage. Neither proved to be what they were cracked up to be. So I left the man and went back to school.” “What are you studying now?” Jon asks. “Nursing, at Tulane,” she replies. About that time, three slightly drunken college students fumble up to the bar. All of them are obviously some sort of athlete weighing in the two hundred fifty pound range. “Hey, sweetheart, how about us?” the first one blurts out. Jennifer rolls her eyes while looking at Jon and says “And now the fun begins. Excuse me, sir.” She walks over to the end of the bar where the three have rested themselves. “Can I get you gentlemen anything?” she asks, while trying to hold back the annoyance that is apparent in her voice. “Yeah, three drafts of whatever is lite,” they reply collectively. Jennifer pours the beers and serves them. “Twelve seventy-five,” she says. She collects fifteen dollars and then leaves quickly to make change. While Jennifer is leaving, the first guy makes a comment to his friends about Jennifer, too faint for her to hear, but Jon hears perfectly. Normally, Jon would let the foolishness of youth pass but for some reason this time he can’t. “I would appreciate you boys watching your mouths,” he says, directing his comment straight at the one who had made the off color remark.
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Turning from his buddies, the biggest one says, “What’s that you said, long hair? You have a problem with me or just a problem with men who like women? Are you one of them French Quarter faggots or something?” Another one joins in and says, “Yeah, maybe he’s just mad because he wants to suck our dicks as much as she does. Ain’t that right?” At that Jennifer turns and says, “Alright, out, get out, all of you.” She grabs up their glasses pouring them in the sink and then looks at the boys and says, “You boys hard of hearing or do I need to call the cops?” “What about our change, bitch?” the big one asks. “Thanks for the tip,” she replies sarcastically. “Wait a minute. That’s our money,” another one says. “Trust me, you boys would just love Central Lockup tonight.” She points at the door forcefully. The three get up very disgruntled. “We’ll be outside, long hair,” one of them says then they leave. Jennifer is still pointing her finger at the door and a little shaken up. “That’s exactly the kind of mentality I was married to. A football jock in college that didn’t make the pros, with a no account degree and a dead end job. So much for love, right?” She pauses, “What did they say anyway?” “It’s not important now, is it?” Jon replies. He stands and leaves two fifty-dollar bills. Jennifer looks at the money and says, “Your bill was only thirty dollars at most.” “For you,” Jon says. “For your continuing education fund. You know what they say; a good mind is a terrible thing to waste.” “Thanks, thank you so very much.” She picks up the money. “By the way, what is your name? I think I should know the name of such a kind benefactor.” “Jon, Jon Erik,” he replies. “Well Mister Jon, Jon Erik, thank you again and please do be careful. Those guys might have been serious.” “I will,” he says. “Thank you for the company. Maybe I’ll see you again.” “I hope so,” she replies and smiles as Jon leaves. Jon makes his way toward the parking lot and his car. His keen senses smell the alcohol off the three drunks and he knows they are waiting in the parking lot. As he reaches to open the car’s door, they step out from behind a truck. “Nice car, long hair,” the first one says. “That must have taken a few blow jobs to get,” says another.
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“Yeah, since you drive such a nice car maybe you have enough money to pay for those beers you just cost us,” says the third one of the bunch. “How bout it, long hair? Got some money to keep us from whippin’ your ass? Hell, he’d probably like it so much he’d pay for that anyway.” Jon turns to face them and the biggest one throws a punch. Jon watches the blow in amusement, delivered pretty fast by human standards, but for a twelve hundred year old vampire, the blow is pitifully slow. Jon waits until it is inches from his face and then with flawless precision, catches the boy's fist with a speed that leaves not even a blur in the eyes of a human. His attacker is caught quite off guard, and even more so when Jon starts to squeeze his hand with his inhuman strength. The pain takes the big guy to his knees. “Let go of my hand, you fuck! Dammit! You’re crushing my fucking hand, let me go!” The boy tries to pry his hand loose from Jon’s grip with his other hand while he squirms in pain on the pavement. The other two look on in amazement and fear as Jon speaks. “Now boys, since I have your undivided attention, there was a time I would have killed you all, so unless you want to end your lives before they have begun I suggest you leave this one alone.” Jon squeezes the first boy’s hand a little harder sending him into a squall of tears. “Enough said?” He gestures with his other hand in a manner to indicate they should leave, then he releases the first one’s hand. The three leave gladly, never realizing how closely they have just looked death in the eyes and been given, at least for now, a reprieve. I must be getting mellow in my old age, Jon thinks to himself. He opens the car door and gets in thinking life was much simpler when they were just food and he had no conscience. He turns the key deciding to head back into the city to some local rock and roll bars that he knows other undead like to frequent. First, he’ll hit the Howling Moon and then maybe he’ll go to the Underground Dungeon when it opens at midnight. Jon knows they’re here. He can feel the evil rising in his own veins as they grow in number. All he needs is just to find them, and he knows they will lead him to the one he wants. The bars are the perfect places where they can blend in and look for unsuspecting food. Jon cranks the car then pulls out onto the street, heading back to the city.

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Chapter Three
Jon drives through the Warehouse District toward Decatur Street after leaving the Howling Moon. He crosses over Canal Street into the French Quarter and pulls off onto a side street, then wheels the Viper up to a hotel parking garage with a valet. He stops at the gate and the valet attendant walks over, a young man of barely twenty, who is obviously a college student. Jon gets out of the car and hands the young man half of a fiftydollar bill. “Take care of my car and keep it close, and you’ll get the other half when I return,” he instructs. The attendant sees the bill and smiles. “Yes, sir,” he says as he hands Jon a ticket. “No problem sir, just look for me, I’m Steve. She’ll be parked right here beside the booth. I’ll watch out for her personally.” Jon thanks him, turns and walks out of the lot then heads up the street. Steve cranks the car rubbing his hands over the steering wheel and caressing it while he thinks, man, I’m gonna have one of these babies after I get out of law school. Then he puts the car into gear and parks it gingerly beside the booth, taking up two spots. Another attendant sees his parking job and yells, “Hey, Steve, what gives here?” Steve holds up the half of the fifty. “This is what gives. I’ll pay for the second spot myself if I have to, but we never end up needing it anyway. So don’t sweat it. I’m keeping an eye on this baby.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Jon walks up Bourbon Street until he reaches the street by the Underground Dungeon. He checks his watch and sees it’s about 1:30 a.m. The club should be starting to get some people by now. He turns and walks down the alley toward the courtyard. There is a line and he waits a few minutes as he makes his way up to the door. The doorman, a larger fellow says, “Ten dollar cover.” Jon hands him a ten-dollar bill, then proceeds on. Walking through the door he stands at the first floor bar for a moment surveying the crowd, some of which are in costume while, still others, are in clothes that are obviously their everyday garb but which could pass as festive dress. The bartender sees him and yells over the music across the bar. “Want something, bud?” he asks. Jon shakes his head in an indication that he does not and heads toward the stairs for the second floor. As he walks up the stairs, people are pushing their way back down. Jon tries to open his mind through all of the noise to see if he can feel any presence of another Vampire. Once upstairs he walks over to the bar. People are pushing and dancing all around him. Then he feels it, another like him, one of the creatures of the damned, but only for a moment. He turns to catch only a glimpse of the back of a man’s head going down the stairs. Jon makes his way back through the crowd and starts to traverse back down the stairs. Pausing a half dozen times as people push their way up, Jon loses sight of the man's head as it disappears at the foot of the stairs. Jon starts to push a little more aggressively now as he makes his way through the ever-increasing flow of bodies. Once at the bottom he senses nothing. He decides whomever it was he was feeling must have left, so he heads out of the bar and back toward Bourbon Street. Once on the street, he starts to feel the evil again. Using his senses he searches the crowd. So many people. But I know he’s here somewhere, Jon thinks. He continues to push his way up the street a few more blocks following his instincts until he reaches a gentlemen’s club, The Bourbon Cabaret. Feeling the presence strongly again, he walks up the steps and into the foyer. Once Jon is inside, a cute girl sitting behind the counter dressed festively in a low cut sheer black cat suit greets him. “It’s a twenty-dollar cover tonight sir,” she says looking Jon over. Jon pays her and she thanks him. He walks into the club and it is full, just like everywhere else he has been tonight. He looks around as he starts to walk through the club, heading toward the VIP area in the very back, deciding this will provide a better vantage point to view the crowd since it is
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slightly higher up. As he walks, a motion catches his attention and he glances up at the main stage. Stopping for a second, he stares. The dancer has her back to him but he feels he recognizes her from somewhere; the hair, or maybe something in the graceful way she moves. Jon tries to see who she is, but just can’t get a good enough look at her face; there are too many people. She continues her dance playing to the front row of men seated there and working the pole in the center of the stage. Spinning seductively she drops into a split, then crawls in feline fashion across the stage. Then someone bumps Jon as they push through the crowd with a waitress close behind. Distracted briefly, he moves out of the way, and by the time they pass, the girl has left the stage. The DJ comes on the microphone and begins to talk over the music. “Let’s give a big round of applause for these fine ladies up here working for you. That’s Princess on the main stage and Cherie on the front stage. Be sure to tip these girls and don’t forget we have two-for-one table dances coming up here in just a few minutes so keep these little ladies up here dancing for you. And don’t forget Princess, she is coming back down to party with you. So in the meantime here’s your next entertainer.” Princess, Jon thinks. Then he proceeds again toward the back as he tones out the DJ’s voice, which is merely a faint reverberation to him at this point. Jon reaches the VIP area. He walks up the steps toward another hostess whose job it is to check for VIP cards. She can see by the way he carries himself that he has money. She looks at Jon and just lets him through while admiring his frame as he passes. “Enjoy yourself, sir,” she says. “Thank you,” Jon replies. Then he stops. “Where is Princess?” he asks. “Oh, she should be changing since she just got off stage. I can send her by if you like when I see her.” “Please do,” Jon replies. He continues inward and finds a table in a slightly secluded spot, yet near the rail to provide a nice angle to see the entire club. The waitress comes over and Jon orders a glass of wine. She heads to the bar then returns promptly with his drink. Jon retrieves a roll of bills from his pocket. He pulls out a ten, hands it to her and says, “Keep it,” before the waitress has a chance to give him back any change. She thanks him and returns to making her rounds.

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Jon sips the Merlot and continues to look out into the crowd, still feeling the presence of another Vampire, yet unable to pinpoint him. He knows the source of this feeling is in the club, but he also starts to sense it’s not the same presence he felt before at the Underground Dungeon. The previous one seemed much older and stronger. He continues to sip his wine while looking out into the crowd and the hostess walks up. Jon turns to see her with a girl behind her, her face just out of sight. “This is Princess, the girl you asked about who was on the main stage earlier.” With that said, the VIP hostess steps to the side, and leaves. The dim light now illuminates the other girl’s face. “Oh, shit!” she says, obviously taken off guard. Now Jon can see why he had such a strong feeling from her before. “Hello Jennifer; uh, excuse me, I mean Princess,” Jon says, quickly correcting himself. Jennifer is dressed in a deep blue leather mini-skirt with two zippers that run the length of the front of the skirt. Both are unzipped about halfway up the skirt revealing most of her upper thighs. Her top is a matching blue leather halter-top with a zipper in the middle. This too is unzipped about halfway down revealing the outline of her breast and a lacy black pushup bra. “Very nice outfit,” Jon remarks. Jennifer is still a little startled as she sits down. “Well, fancy meeting you here,” she says jokingly, trying to ease the tension she is feeling at the moment. Jon looks at her and can tell by her body language and the slight difference in her voice that she is a little uneasy. So he attempts to lighten the situation by playing it off like nothing is unusual to him, even though, he is a little surprised with himself over how taken he seems to be with her. “Would you like a drink?” he asks. “Yes, definitely, thank you,” she replies. “Sorry about my reaction, it’s nothing personal. I guess you were the last person that I figured to run into here.” “No offense taken,” Jon says. “I must confess to being a little surprised myself, pleasantly surprised though,” he says. Then Jon gets the waitress’s attention and she walks over. “Yes, can I help you?” she asks. Jon gestures to Jennifer and says, “I believe the lady needs a drink.” The waitress looks at Jennifer. “I’ll have a glass of Merlot, please,” Jennifer says.

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Then the waitress turns back toward Jon. “Would you like me to start a tab for you sir?” “Sure,” Jon replies pulling out his credit card and handing it to the waitress. “I’ll be right back,” the waitress says then leaves. “Thank you for the drink,” Jennifer says. “And thank you for correcting yourself on the name thing. Most people here, including most of the girls, don’t know my real name. I try to keep this part of my life separate from my so-called normal one, if you know what I mean,” she says. “Of course,” Jon says. “I understand. We all have parts of ourselves that we keep isolated from other people.” The waitress returns with the glass of Merlot. She places it on the table by Jennifer, then she leaves again. “So, have you ever been here before?” she asks. “No, I haven’t,” Jon replies. “It seems nice, though.” Jennifer takes a few sips of her wine, trying to relax a bit. “Yes, it is, especially compared to most of the other strip clubs in the Quarter,” she says. “I work here off and on when I need money or when there’s a special event or holiday type thing going on down here.” Jon is still surveying the crowd as he talks, but not in an obvious manner, since he doesn't want to appear to be rude to Jennifer. “Well, it appears you have a good crowd tonight,” he remarks. “Yeah,” she says, “but looks can be deceiving sometimes. There seems to be a weird group in here tonight, especially this one guy who was here while I was on stage. But it is the weekend before Halloween so I guess that gives all the weirdoes an excuse to come out.” Jon looks at her trying to show his interest without showing her his genuine concern. “Which guy was that?” he asks. “Oh, just some guy who’s been coming in the past couple of weeks,” Jennifer says, adjusting her sitting position as she starts to feel more at ease now. “As I said before, I don’t come here that often anymore so I don’t have any of what you would call regulars. But I’ve been trying to catch up on some bills so I've been working for the past two weeks. You know, trying to get some extra money for my son’s Christmas,” she says, pausing to take a few more sips of her wine, before continuing. “Anyway, this guy has been coming in a lot and the other night one of the waitresses told me that he had asked about me. It was a slow night so I went over and tried to talk to him. But when I got there, he acted like he
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wasn’t very interested, so I left. It’s not like he does anything wrong, but sometimes I get a really weird feeling from him when he’s around. Like the other night for example, I saw him sitting at the bar by himself, as usual, before I left that night. It was late and I was walking back to the garage where I park my car. On the way, I kept having this feeling that I was being followed, but you know how creepy the Quarter can be late at night, especially when you’re a girl by yourself with money in your pocket. So I kind of blew it off thinking it was my imagination. But then, when I got to the parking garage, he was there. Almost like he knew where I parked or had followed me. Anyway, the guy gives me the creeps. Plus, he never spends any money.” Jennifer sits back in her chair and takes another sip of her wine. “Where is he now?” Jon asks. “Is he still here?” Jennifer looks out in the crowd until she sees the man. “There he is.” She points and Jon follows her finger’s direction. “The heavy-set guy; over there at that table, on the middle floor by the stage.” As she finishes her sentence, the stranger looks up and right at her, almost as though he can hear her. Jon sees the man and realizes this is definitely not the man he was following earlier. The burly man stares at Jennifer, then makes eye contact with Jon. Even though he is not nearly as old or at the same level in the hierarchy of the undead as Jon is, the man can sense Jon also. For a mere moment Jon can hear his thoughts, but it is a very brief contact and the pathway to his mind is severed quickly. Jon looks at the man more intently now, trying to determine why he feels that he has a connection to this man. Jennifer notices the intensity in Jon’s stare now and asks, “Do you know him?” Jon quickly turns his attention back to her. “No,” he says jokingly. “I just wanted to try and get a good look at him in case I have any more people wanting to wait for me outside of the bar.” Jennifer looks concerned for a second. “You know, I’m really sorry about getting you in the middle of all that earlier tonight.” “Don’t worry about it, really. I had no problems with those boys when I left.” Jennifer ponders this comment briefly, unsure of its meaning. Was it that he had no problems because the boys had not waited or because they had, and he handled them? She decides she’s probably better off not knowing and they continue to talk.

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A few more drinks and a couple of more hours pass, and then the DJ calls last call for alcohol. Jennifer looks at her watch and realizes she has been talking to Jon for almost two and half-hours. “Well, we’re closing. I’m really glad you came in tonight,” she says. “Me too,” Jon replies as he reaches in and pulls out three fifty-dollar bills and hands them to Jennifer. “No,” she says, “I can’t let you do this again.” “Yes you can,” Jon says, “I insist. You were working and you spent the entire time with me.” He takes the money and places it in her hands. “It's not like I didn’t enjoy myself,” she says. “You really don’t have to do this.” Jon smiles, something he very rarely does. “I want to. Please take it,” he persists. “Okay,” she says, putting the money in her garter and stands up. “Would you mind walking me to my car? Since that guy was in here tonight I would really appreciate it.” Jon nods his head. “Sure, I’ll be right here.” The waitress comes over and asks if Jon wants anything else before she has to close his tab. “No, nothing, thank you,” he says. Jennifer looks at the waitress and says, “He’s staying a few more minutes to wait for me, okay? So don’t put him out with everyone else. Tell Mike for me, okay? The waitress agrees, then hands Jon his bill. Jon signs the credit card slip, taking the receipt and his card. The waitress thanks him for his generous tip and leaves. Walking away, she passes a middle-aged man wearing a suit and tie, who looks to be a manager for the club. She stops for a second and the two converse. She points over toward Jon and the man nods in agreement, and then the waitress walks off back toward the VIP bar. The man walks over to Jon and introduces himself. “Hi. I’m Mike, the manager here,” as he extends his hand, Jon stands, extending his own hand to meet Mike’s. “The waitress told me that you are waiting on Princess,” Mike continues. “Yes,” Jon replies. “That is all right, isn’t it?” he asks. “Sure,” Mike says. “I just need to ask you to wait downstairs by the front bar so we can close this section down.” Then Mike gestures with his other hand in the direction of the steps and Jon starts toward them. “Princess should be out in a few minutes. Feel free to get yourself another drink at the front bar on me while you wait.” Mike reaches in his

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suit pocket and retrieves a business card. “Here’s my card, just hand it to the bartender.” Jon takes the card and then Mike says, “I don’t believe I caught your name, sir.” Jon replies. “Jon, Jon Erik.” Mike extends his hand once again. “All right, Jon, well it was nice to meet you and you come back to see us again.” "Thank you," Jon says shaking Mike's hand again and then he heads down the steps toward the bar. Once at the bar he sees that there are only a few people left in the club, mostly workers cleaning their stations and a few customers obviously waiting on someone who works there, the same as Jon. The bartender sees Jon and asks him if he would like anything. Jon replies, “Yes. A glass of Merlot please.” The bartender reaches for a glass then a bottle. He pours the dark red liquid out into the wineglass then sets it on the bar. “Who are you waiting for, if you don’t mind me asking?" he says. Jon picks up the glass and replies, “Princess.” The bartender looks at Jon and says, “That’s pretty amazing. She never leaves with anyone. Well I’m sure you won't have to wait too long.” He pauses, turns back toward the register, then back around to face Jon and says, “That’ll be six dollars for the wine sir.” Jon hands him the card that Mike had given him along with a tendollar bill as a gratuity for the service. “Hey, thanks bud," the bartender says. “Most people think because the drink is free that our time is also. It’s nice to see that there are some people who still know the difference. My name is Jay. Next time you come in your first one is on me.” Jon extends the glass in a toast type manner and thanks him. Jon sips his wine, with his mind on trying to think of how he knows the man he saw earlier, when Jennifer walks up with her bag over her arm. She is now wearing a tight pair of leather pants and boots that make her stand a few inches taller, and to match the rest of her attire, a black silk halter-top. It has an open back and a collar that snaps around her neck with a V-shaped opening in the front revealing her cleavage. Jon stands, once again amazed at how he continues to be attracted to her, a feeling that comes from more than her obvious beauty and charm. It’s almost as if he is drawn to her soul. As he stands, he notices a necklace that she is wearing. It hangs just inside the V of her halter between her breasts. A silvery pendant, looking to
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be very old, with an image engraved in it similar in appearance that of a rune. Jon comments on the stone. “That’s a very unusual piece,” he says as he tries not to be too obvious while he stares at her chest. Jennifer looks down and holds the necklace up closer for him to inspect. “Yes, it was given to me by my grandmother years ago. It’s supposed to a family heirloom or something. She always told me it would protect me and that it is what keeps me connected to my family and our power, or something like that.” She releases it from her grasp and it falls back to its original resting place on her chest. “I always just liked it because I love silver and Gothic type things. I took some courses in college on religion and two of the things we studied were witchcraft and magic. I think this is what is called a Rune Stone, but when I tried to look it up I couldn’t find any reference to it. Anyway it goes well with the outfit, don’t you think?” She steps back as if to give Jon a better look and extends her arms in both directions from her sides in a joking manner and laughs. Jon nods in approval. “Yes, it does, quite nicely,” he says while still thinking about the necklace. Jon and Jennifer exit the club, with Jennifer telling her co-workers good night as they leave. They walk to the front door and Mike is there to unlock it and let them out. She hugs him goodbye and Jon shakes his hand again and thanks him for the drink. They walk out the door and down the front steps. Once out on Bourbon Street, Jon sees that the crowd from before has now dwindled to the few bar and hotel people who are just now getting off work. “Which way?” Jon asks. Jennifer points toward Canal Street and replies, “This way,” then they start to walk down the street. “So, how old is your son?" Jon asks. “Seven going on thirty,” Jennifer replies. “He has been really cranky lately. He gets that way every time he sees his father,” she says. “He’s with my ex this weekend. So I’m sure to get attitude on Monday.” She sighs, “I really hate that too. Every other week it takes me about two days to get him back into a routine. His father always lets him do what he wants and then when he gets home, I’m the mean ol’ Mommy. I swear the son-of-a-bitch does it on purpose just to piss me off.” She stops walking for a second and looks up at Jon. “I’m sorry. I’m sure that you really don’t want to hear about my situation with my ex. I apologize.”
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Jon looks at her sympathetically. “No need for that. I’m sure you just need to blow off some steam sometimes.” They continue to walk. “Thanks,” she says. “I guess those assholes, pardon my French, earlier tonight, just got me thinking about it a little more than usual. Anyway it might not be that bad this week because he wants to get all dressed up and go Trick-or-Treating for Halloween. It’s our favorite holiday. He wants to be a vampire this year. I went and got him some really cool fangs. He loves them.” She laughs, “The little brat took them to school the other day and tried bite a little girl on the neck.” Jon and Jennifer turn down a side street toward the garage and Jennifer starts to reach in her pocket for her ticket. Then she continues her story. “Let me tell you those nuns at school were none too amused at the incident. I had go talk to his teacher. Man, I still hate facing those women. I went to Catholic school also,” she says shaking her head. “But it’s the only way to get a good education here and keep your kids halfway safe. The public schools here are becoming a zoo.” They walk up to the parking garage and it is the same one Jon had parked at earlier. “It appears our paths continue to intersect,” Jon says, slightly surprised that while walking Jennifer to her car fate has, for the third time tonight, brought them to the same place. “So it seems,” she replies. The parking attendant walks up. Recognizing Jon he says, “Oh, it’s you. I’ll be right back with your car.” Jon stops him before he turns around. “Steve, right?” Jon asks and the young man nods. “Please get the lady's first.” Jon then hands him the other half of the fifty-dollar bill he promised. “Sure.” Steve turns to Jennifer and holds out his hand. “Your ticket ma’am.” Jennifer hands him the ticket and the boy leaves, then she turns to Jon, smiles and picks back up with their earlier conversation before Steve interrupted them. “Alright, I admit it, I’ve been following you,” she says in a teasing manner and slightly laughing, causing Jon to smile at her flirtatious comment.
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Both are silent for a moment as Steve goes to retrieve the vehicle. Steve returns a few moments later with Jennifer’s car, a burgundy Mitsubishi Montero Sport. He then walks over to the parking attendant’s booth to punch the ticket so he can get an accurate reading to tell Jennifer what she owes for the night. Returning, he hands her the ticket. “That’ll be fifteen dollars please,” he says. Jennifer starts to reach in her bag and Jon touches her hand stopping her. Then he hands Steve a twenty-dollar bill and tells him to keep it. Steve thanks him and asks, “Are you ready, sir?” Jon nods in answer to his question and Steve says, “I’ll be right back.” Jennifer looks at Jon, “You really didn’t have to do that, you know. Thank you.” Then Jennifer says hesitantly, “Look. I don’t usually do this, but would you like to go with me to get a drink? All the girls usually get together at this after-hours bar called The Hideout, and if you want, you could follow me there. I’ve really been enjoying our conversation and since my son is gone for the weekend, I really don’t feel like going home yet.” She searches his face for a response and Jon replies, “Sure, okay.” “So you’re going to follow me right? And I’m buying the first round, no arguments," she says and Jon nods in agreement. Steve pulls up behind Jennifer’s truck in Jon’s black Viper. Jennifer looks at the car then back up at Jon. “Nice car!” she says. Steve gets out and walks over to Jon. Jon hands him his ticket and Steve takes it, tearing it half. “No charge, mister,” he says. “Thanks for the tips. You ever need a place to park, and I don’t care if it's during Mardi Gras, just ask for Steve and I’ll hook you up. You two have a good night now.” Then he turns and walks away. Jon turns back to Jennifer and she has already gotten in her vehicle. Jon shuts the door for her as she adjusts the seat back to a position more comfortable for her. Then she looks at Jon. “I’ll try not to lose you," she says, almost laughing. Jon smiles and walks back to his car and then they both exit the garage. Jon follows Jennifer a few blocks, crossing Canal Street and then on to another side street. She parks next to a curb and Jon pulls in directly behind her, then they both get out. Jennifer walks up to him as a slightly cool breeze blows down the street causing her to shudder slightly as a chill runs up her spine. Grabbing his hand she points to a glass door that would go completely unnoticed by anyone not familiar with the establishment. “Here we are,” she says as they start to walk toward the entrance.

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Then the wind blows again and Jennifer, thinking she heard her name, turns to Jon and asks, “Did you say something?” “No,” he replies. “Oh well,” she says. “I guess I’ve just had a long day. I definitely need a drink.” As they get to the entrance to the bar Jon reaches out and opens the door for her. Jennifer thanks him for his continued gentlemanly and chivalrous manners and they enter. The entranceway opens up to a large room with high ceilings and a second floor balcony area that encompasses all but the front side of the building. The room is dimly lit with soft neon light that adds a subtle color and ambience in its illumination. The paintings and photographs, which adorn the walls all around, are mostly by local artists and all appear to be for sale. The rest of the room is adorned with brass track lighting and wall fixtures positioned in ways as to accent the artwork on the walls. The furniture in the room is made up of brushed metal framed leather sofas and high back chairs with foot rests in front of them, all of which are sitting around matching glass-topped coffee tables. The rest of the room is filled with a mix of bar and entertainment industry people who frequent the club seeking refuge from the normal Bourbon Street tourist crowd. As Jon and Jennifer walk through the crowd men are shaking each other’s hands and the women are hugging and kissing each other in greeting. Then Jon feels a presence again, but he’s not sure from where. He looks around searching the crowd for a feeling but he still can’t place its origin. Jennifer recognizes one of her friends from another club and hugs her affectionately. She introduces Jon and then they continue to walk toward the bar. “Remember, I’m buying the first round now, no argument,” Jennifer says, reminding Jon insistently. Jon gestures toward the bar and says, “I never argue with a lady.” She reaches into her purse and pulls out a twenty-dollar bill as they reach the bar and she asks, “Do you want to sit here or find a table?” “Whichever you want,” Jon says, “since you are buying. However, the bar is fine with me for now.” Jennifer agrees and Jon pulls a chair out for her so she can sit. Jennifer sits down and Jon follows suit behind her taking a moment to look for any mirrors that he might be directly in line with. Jon knows, as all Vampires do, that they don’t cast a true reflection in a mirror that mortals can see. Vampires can see themselves but must project that image into the mind of mortals, sort of like a hypnotic suggestion, for their reflection to be seen by a non-immortal, and only the older and stronger
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Vampires have this ability. Even so, it takes a little concentration to keep up the image in a room as crowded as this one and Jon always tries to take a position behind something or at an angle to any overly reflective object. So he positions his chair to be slightly behind the oversized cash register to partially hide himself from the large sheet of polished stainless steel against the wall behind the bar where all the liquor bottles sit on glass shelves. The bar itself is made of all glass blocks along its length, including the footrest. All have neon lights shining up from inside of them. The bar counter top is made of polished copper with a brass lip that rims its entire edge. The door that lifts up to allow passage to and from behind the bar is on the far end. The bar chairs blend with the styling of the rest of the furniture with high back leather cushions in a cross between a bar style chair and an executive style chair. Behind the bar, two upright stainless steel coolers with glass doors stand at opposites ends of the bar displaying the imported style beers and champagnes sold. The beer cooler has thick glass lids and it runs the full length of the thirty-foot bar. The draft beer taps are a combination of polished brass and copper piping and fittings with the tap handles being made of clear crystal style glass, each with a different color neon light inside each of them. The soda and juice guns are a combination of interwoven braids of stainless steel and brass with glass-ended nozzles and a stainless tipped spout. Each one has a flashing LED, the color changing depending on the juice or soda being dispensed from them. A bartender walks over to wait on them. “Hey Jen,” he says. Jennifer stands up on the foot rail and leans in, kissing the bartender on the cheek. She returns to a sitting position and proceeds to introduce Jon. “Rick, this is my friend Jon.” She then turns to Jon, “Jon, this is my good friend, Rick. One of my two most favorite dispensers of alcohol in all the world, not to mention that he lives just down the road from me with his roommate, Marcus, and both have gotten me home from here a few times.” Rick wipes off his right hand extending it toward Jon. Shaking hands, they exchange hellos. “Well, what can I get you two fine people on such a night?” he asks, then looks back and forth between Jennifer and Jon. Jennifer speaks first. “I need a shot. Rick, fix us up something. I’ve had a very long day.” Then she turns to Jon. “Are shots okay with you?” “Sure, why not, whatever you suggest,” Jon replies.

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“I got just the drink,” Rick says and he proceeds to pour the various liquors into a shaker. Jennifer turns to Jon. “What is it that you do again?” she asks. “Real estate mostly, some here, but mostly in New York, London and Paris,” he says. “So you’ve traveled a lot, I guess?” she says. “A bit,” Jon nods, “but I’ve always had a warm spot in my heart for New Orleans. Lots of good memories.” Rick returns with their drinks, two glasses filled up about five ounces each with a blue liquid. “All right, Rick, what new thing are you feeding me this time?" she asks. “I call it a Blue Valium," Rick says, “Guaranteed to calm your nerves and it’s just what the doctor ordered.” Rick pushes the glasses toward them. “Drink up, unless you’re scared.” He laughs. “You know me, I’ll try most anything once,” she says. "There’s no tequila in it is there? You know how I get when I drink that stuff.” “No, no,” Rick persists. “Believe me, I remember that one. I’ll never do that again.” he says. “Okay then,” Jennifer says as she holds up her glass toward Jon in the manner of a toast. Jon follows her lead and holds up his as well. “To what do we drink?” he asks. “ I don’t know, you pick something,” she replies. Jon thinks a minute and says, “Hum,” he says, “Let’s see, to… it’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Jennifer thinks for a second, “I like that.” Then they both turn up their glasses and drink until all of the blue elixir is gone. As they put down their glasses Jennifer looks at Jon. “I really liked that, did you make that up?” she asks. “No,” Jon says. “George Eliot; I always liked the implication of the possibility that it is never too late to change your fate. Anyway, it’s all I could think of at the moment and world peace is overdone.” Jennifer laughs and they order more drinks. The conversation continues until Jennifer stands up. “I need to run to the ladies room. I’ll be back in minute.” Having been so focused on Jennifer and her company Jon has not been watching the crowd, but the feeling of evil is still with him. He watches Jennifer as she disappears around the corner into the ladies restroom, then he focuses his attention on the other patrons. He searches their eyes looking for
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that emptiness, the kind that one has when he has lost his mortal soul, an emptiness he himself knows all too well. He looks up at the balcony area and still sees nothing. He continues looking around when all of the sudden the feeling gets much stronger. Jennifer comes walking out of the restroom only to run right into the man that she had pointed out to Jon earlier at the Bourbon Cabaret. “Hello Princess, or should I say, Jennifer?” the man says menacingly. Jennifer is standing just out of the main view of the rest of the patrons but most importantly out of sight from Jon. She tries to act as if his presence or the fact that he knows her real name does not startle her. “I’m sorry, do I know you?” she asks, “I don’t believe we’ve met. What’s your name?” “My name,” the man pauses, “oh, my name is unimportant. What is important is you, Jennifer. You and your son.” Now Jennifer goes from being startled, to the enraged protectiveness of a mother at this even more unexpected mentioning of her son by this stranger. “Who the fuck are you! You son-of-a-bitch, you'd better stay away from me and my son or I’ll kill you!” Jon hears her even over the music in the bar and gets up quickly to see what has happened. The man, trying to avoid a scene, abruptly turns and retreats toward the front door bumping into Jon in his haste. Jon, being larger, never budges and the man bounces off him into a pole after their collision. Then Jon sees him, and looking into his eyes, he immediately recognizes him as the man he had seen at the Bourbon Cabaret earlier, and for what he truly is. Jennifer comes from around the corner still swearing and pointing at the man. Jon grabs his arm and pulls him off the floor with the ease of a man that should have been many times Jon’s size. The man starts to struggle and Jon tries to wrap him up but he is wearing a loose fitting coat and he slides free from Jon’s grasp, leaving Jon holding the garment as the man escapes. Jon knows he could catch him but to do so he would need to use the supernatural speed of a Vampire and this, in a crowded bar, would draw too much attention to himself. Jon realizes now that the man serves his creator, as her scent of death is all too familiar on the man. She will know he’s here in New Orleans now. Jon becomes slightly concerned. He is not quite sure as to what Jennifer’s involvement is with this but it’s obvious there is a connection here somewhere and his time is short in trying to find out what it is. The stakes just got higher, he thinks to himself.

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Jennifer comes running over and Jon stops her from trying to chase after the man. “That bastard’s been following me! He knows my name, that I have a son and God knows what else!” she exclaims hysterically. Jon drops the coat across another chair and then puts his arms around her. “It’s okay, he’s gone now. You’re all right. Don’t worry, nothing is going to happen to you or your son.” He holds her for a minute, letting her calm down, then they start to walk back toward the bar. Jon leaves the coat, thinking that there is no need to take it with them, now that he knows this Vampire’s scent, it will make him much easier to find in crowd next time. Rick had started from behind the bar but was too far away when everything happened to do anything. He walks over to Jennifer and tries to console her along with Jon. “Are you all right?” he asks with an earnest concern in his voice for her. “No, I’m not all right,” she says. “That man has been coming into the club and he knows my name and everything about me.” Rick hugs her then returns behind the bar. “Do you want me to call the cops or something?” “What can the cops do?” Jennifer says still quite angry. “All they would do is fill out a complaint for some idiot stalking me who I can’t really describe or give any pertinent information about,” she says as she gets back into her chair. “Then they’d just blow it off once I tell them I work at the Cabaret. I can hear it now. Just another dumb stripper ho.” Rick looks over at Jon then back at Jennifer. “Do you think he might know you from somewhere else?” “I don’t know,” she says while she situates herself in the tall chair. “I don’t ever remember seeing him before tonight except maybe a few times at the club and once in the parking garage.” She looks over at Jon, “I’m sorry, but I really need to get drunk.” Then she looks back toward Rick. “Give me a shot of Quervo 1800, now!” she demands. Rick quickly pours the drink, then turns and retrieves some cut lemons, placing them on the bar in front of Jennifer. He looks over to Jon, “Watch out for her, okay. She's special to a lot of people around here.” Jennifer reaches out and squeezes Rick’s hand affectionately. She holds her nose then grabs the over poured shot glass and turns it up quickly. She empties the glass completely and slams it hard back on the counter.
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Swallowing hard she grabs up a lemon wedge and bites into it with her face expressing her obvious dislike for the taste of the tequila. She puts the lemon down and looks over at Jon. “That’s twice tonight you’ve been there for me. Thank you.” She leans over and kisses him on the cheek then places her head on his shoulder. Jon puts his arm around her like a protective wing. Now with the few drinks she has had from before, Jennifer is a little tipsy. Jon offers to drive her home but she says doesn’t want to go home. “Look,” she says, “I know we just met and all, but, for some reason I feel I know you. And I really don’t want to go home tonight to an empty house with some weirdo stalking me. You think, maybe, I could crash at your place for a few hours? Just until the sun comes up, I’d really appreciate it.” “Sure,” Jon says. “Thanks, I’m feeling a little better now. What did you do with that guy’s coat anyway?” she asks. “Oh, I guess I forgot about that,” Jon says trying to play off that he had left it on purpose. “I left it draped over that chair.” He gets up and walks over to the chair close to where the man fell. Recovering the coat, he walks back over to the bar. “Here Rick, maybe you could hold on to this in case someone comes back to claim it. Then maybe you could get a name so she could give it to the police for a restraining order or something.” “Sure, no problem,” Rick says taking the coat from Jon. “Well he’s for damn sure barred from the Cabaret for life. I’ll see to that tomorrow,” Jennifer says sternly. Jon looks at Rick and asks, “How much do we owe?” Rick takes the ticket from behind the bar and tears it up. “You’re taking care of my girl, so you don’t owe me nothing. Thanks for looking out for her. You're welcome here any time.” Rick shakes Jon’s hand and Jennifer leans across the bar again to kiss him goodbye. “Looks like you found a good one this time,” Rick whispers in her ear. “Yeah, I thought they were all dead,” she replies softly, not knowing about Jon’s exceptional hearing. Jon thinks to himself how ironic it is that she would use that expression, considering that in reality he himself has been dead from a mortal’s existence for a very long time.

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Jennifer pulls out a set of keys attached to a car remote and removes her car key from the ring. “Look, I don’t think I should be driving anywhere. Rick, do you think you and Marcus could drop my truck off by my house on your way home when he shows up to get you?” “Sure Jen, whatever you want.” “Just throw the key under the front floor mat. I have my house keys and this is the remote so I’ll still be able to get into the truck.” Then she hands her car key to Rick, “Thanks sweetie, you’re the best.” “No problem, just call me tomorrow before you go to work to let me know you're okay. No offense meant,” he says looking over to Jon. “None taken,” Jon replies. They exit the bar and walk over to Jennifer’s vehicle first so she can get her outfit bag out of it then over to Jon’s car. Jennifer walks around to the passenger side and Jon steps up to open the door for her. “You know I could get spoiled like this,” she says, still a little intoxicated. “I really hope you’re as nice as you seem,” she remarks as Jon opens the passenger door and she gets in. Jon closes it once she is in and has her seat belt on. “Well,” he pauses, “I can’t say I’m a saint or anything but you can be rest assured that I will not let anything happen to you.” Jon walks around to the driver’s side and gets in. He pulls out his keys and cranks the car. It starts and the little side street echoes with the power that emanates from the car’s engine. He drives off up the road heading back toward the French Quarter. “Where do you live?” Jennifer asks as Jon crosses Canal Street. “On the corner of Chartres Street and Governor Nicholls,” he replies. A few minutes later, they arrive outside his loft and Jon looks over to Jennifer. “Would you mind opening the glove box and pressing the red button?” She does as requested and the eight-foot front gate starts to open. “And the green one now, please.” This causes a massive garage door to open. “What did you say you did for a living, real estate?” she asks, a little awed. “Yes.” “I guess you do all right, huh?” she says sarcastically. “I do all right.” “How long have you been in the business, a couple of hundred years or something? It’s a family thing right?”
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“Something like that,” Jon says and drives the car into the garage and parks. Jennifer looks around with amazement at the collection of vehicles in the garage as Jon gets out. He walks around the car, opens the door, and helps her out of the passenger seat while grabbing her outfit bag from the floor in front of the seat. Then he reaches back inside the glove box pressing both buttons to close the gate and garage door behind them. He then turns and gestures toward the elevator at the far end on the garage. She walks still in awe of the magnitude of the room. “I would never have guessed all of this was in here. I bet I’ve walked by here a hundred times on my way to the French Market or something. How long have you owned this place?” “Oh, it’s been in my family for years. I had it redone a while back though, to be more suitable for my needs while I’m here.” “No brother or sisters?” “No I was an only child and my parents passed away when I was younger.” “Sorry.” “Its okay, I'm used to it. I’ve lived with it a long time.” He opens the old style cage door to the elevator and pushes the middle button on the control panel. The elevator starts to lift. “Man, this could be handy if you ever come home drunk,” Jennifer says and laughs. Once they reach the first floor of the apartment the elevator stops. Jon opens the gate and they both exit into the living room. “Would you like some water or coffee or something?” he inquires as he steps behind the counter of an old style, fully stocked wet bar placing the outfit bag on top of the counter. “Water would be nice, thank you.” She stands in the middle of the room almost afraid to touch anything, first looking up to the vaulted ceiling and fans, then at the rest of the room. She feels like she is in the main room of a very classy historical hotel. Jon walks over with a glass full of ice and bottled water. Jennifer takes the glass and sips slowly from it. “The guest room is right over here,” Jon says. He walks back over to the bar, picking up her bag and then to the other end of the living room. Jennifer follows close behind. Jon opens the door to a lavishly furnished guest bedroom.

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“Over there is a bathroom and there is a small refrigerator in the corner with sodas and bottled water. I’m assuming that you don’t want any more alcoholic type beverages for the night.” “Oh, no,” Jennifer replies quickly. “Well there’s a remote beside the bed,” he says as he walks to the bed, putting her bag on top of the comforter, and then bending over to pick up the remote, “and the entertainment center is right behind there.” Jon presses a button on the remote and a panel in the wall slides open revealing a state-of-the-art entertainment center complete with a flat style, seventy-inch wide screen television. “Don’t worry about the noise; the walls are sound proof, so you won't disturb me if you want to leave it on. I know some people sleep better that way.” He leaves the panel open and places the remote back on the table beside the king-size bed. Jennifer looks around and says, “This is your guest bedroom?” Pausing a moment, she thinks, wow this is bigger than my whole living room. "So where do you sleep?” she asks coyly. “The third floor is where I have my room.” “Oh, you have a couple of more bedrooms upstairs?” she asks. “No,” he replies. “Just mine.” He starts back toward the door and once at the entrance he turns back to face her. “Do you need anything else?” “No, I believe I’ll manage all right.” “Well, if you do decide you need anything else just call me, there is a video intercom by the bed, I have one upstairs also. And don’t feel that you will disturb me, I never really sleep anyway. Last thing, there is a climate control thermostat that controls the temperature for this room and the door only locks or unlocks from the inside so if you feel a little uncomfortable, please, feel free to use it. I will take no offense, believe me.” Jon starts to exit the room. “Good night, Jennifer, I guess I’ll see you in the morning.” “Good night,” she replies. “Oh, and Jon...” Jon stops, turning once again to face her. “Thanks, really, for everything.” Jon nods and closes the door behind him. Jennifer explores her surroundings a little bit more and she walks into the bathroom. At the far end sits a huge sunk-in style tub that is big enough to fit two people very comfortably. At one end there is a gas log fireplace with a thirty-six inch flat screen TV above it, along with a small recessed wet-bar and video telephone at the other end.
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Each of the four corners has a candle in a polished silver holder on the outside edge. In the middle, directly in front of the doorway is a huge marble counter top with two sinks and a lighted mirror that runs its full length. Beside the mirror on the wall is a blow dryer. In the cabinet drawers are towels, washcloths and a complete man’s shaving kit. At the other of the end of the bathroom is a large glass enclosed shower, also big enough for two people. It has six showerheads, two on bottom, two in the middle and two up high, and all are shower massage heads with multiple dial settings. Each has a long, adjustable angled nozzle and its own hot and cold knob for individual temperature as well as water pressure setting. She leaves the bathroom and undresses to her underwear, throwing her clothes on top of the bed. Then she walks toward the front of the room opening the curtain to reveal a balcony overlooking the street. She raises the huge lower part of the fourteen-foot window and steps out onto the balcony. It feels nice as the cool morning breeze blows across her semi-nude body She stares for a moment trying to take in all of the events since she has met Jon. She still can’t understand why she feels this bond to him. She convinces herself that she must just be making the feeling up in her head just because it has been so long since she was treated with respect by a man, much less someone with all of this at his disposal. Anyway, tomorrow is another day and the magic always seems to disappear with the coming of dawn. She turns to go back inside, when out of the corner of her eye she thinks she sees someone, a man in the shadows, just out of sight, watching her out of the darkness. Then the wind seems to pick up for a second and a somber breeze blows through her hair and once again she hears her name in the wind. She hurries off the balcony closing the window and curtains behind her. A little shaken she walks over and picks up her glass of water, gulping it all quickly. She walks over to engage the dead bolt on the bedroom door but as she hears it start to slide into place, then she changes her mind, thinking that she really wouldn’t mind if Jon were to walk in on her. Then she walks into the bathroom to turn off the light, turns and heads back toward the bed. Crawling across the thick comforter she pushes her outfit bag and clothes on to the floor. She picks up the remote and turns on the TV with the volume very low, then turns off the lamp beside the bed and tries to relax so she can go to sleep. Jon ascends the spiral staircase to the third floor of the loft. At the top he pauses to hear the door to the guestroom’s dead bolt start to move then
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slide back to be left undone. Jon starts to wonder and he starts to think about Jennifer dancing on stage when he came in to the Cabaret and the unusual attraction he has been feeling toward her. Then he quickly tries to refocus his thoughts elsewhere. He begins to think about the necklace again and wonders why it seems familiar to him. He knows he has seen a symbol similar to that once before. He walks across the large open room toward the office area of the upstairs room. He sits down behind a large polished metal-framed desk with a lead crystal top. On its top sit multiple computers, each with its own high-speed access line to the Internet, a multi-line executive style videophone that also ties in to his intercom system and a remote. Jon picks up the remote pressing a sequence of buttons causing a section of the wall to open. Jon’s enormous eighty-inch video screen home theater and the rest of his entertainment center conceal a door that looks like a bank vault door. Once it ceases opening, a light comes on automatically within its chambers. Jon gets up, walks over to the edge of the opening, and stops to look. Inside these walls hold the truth behind Jon’s existence. On one side of the vault there sits a large upright commercial style refrigerator, which inside its thick stainless steel walls and glass-encased doors, completely houses Jon’s supply of blood. In the center of the large room sits a large ornate coffin. On the opposite side of the vault, there is a shelf that holds articles of Jon’s past. He steps into the room and walks over to the coffin. Once Jon reaches the coffin, he lifts the lid to reveal Jon’s most prized possessions. One is his father’s sword, still in two pieces, a constant reminder of the night he was initiated into this life of the Damned. The other is also a sword, a very special Sword. It has a long blade and at the hilt, the hand guard is made of gold and resembles angel's wings. It was once the magical Sword of Laertes, Odysseus’s father. Odysseus used this Sword when he needed information, which could only be acquired from briefly resurrecting the long-dead sage Teiresias. He had to hold the other undead spirits at bay. This Sword is the only weapon Jon knows of that is powerful enough to kill his creator and it took Jon a very long time to acquire it. Jon looks at the two blades, one a reminder of his life before death, now ended, broken and decayed. The other, his life after death, like him, is the same as it was the day it was forged, timeless and never changing. He thinks of his comrades and that never-ending night and wonders if they look down on him from Valhalla. He wonders if they forgive him for not being there with them. He wonders how long forever is and if he will ever get to join them. Jon reaches in the coffin and picks up the hilt of the broken sword
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in his left hand and then the Sword of Laertes in his right. The blades feel good in his hands. This feeling is one of the things he has missed most of all, the power of the blade when he was the master of his destiny with his band of warriors by his side in battle. Well, he thinks, the time of the gathering is at hand. In a prayer-like manner, he raises blades high into the air and his body starts to levitate. Now high above the floor, he says, “Watch over me, my brothers, from your seats in Valhalla. Give me your strength so that I may avenge your deaths.” This time he knows it will be finished between him and his creator one way or the other. He places the two blades back in the coffin and walks out of the room, pressing a button that seals the entrance behind him. Walking over to the bed he pulls off his black shirt, laying it neatly across the back of a chair in front of his desk and then proceeds to unzip his pants. He sits on the edge of the bed, pries off his boots, strips off his jeans, stands, and folds them in half, laying them neatly across the chair also. Then he turns and lays back on the bed nude, feet still on the floor, thinking about Jennifer and this unusual attraction he has to her. He senses feelings rising in him that have been dormant for centuries. It wasn’t like he hasn’t had mortal women over the years, but most of these were little more than meaningless distractions. With Jennifer however, he feels a rush when he looks into her eyes, the kind of rush that makes him feel like he is almost alive again, a sensation that he has not known for more centuries than he cares to remember. Jon stares up at the ceiling blankly, watching the blades of the fan above his bed, with its steady hum and continuous spinning, and it takes his mind into an almost hypnotic state. With his eyes open and engrossed on the fixture, he drifts off into the closest thing he knows to peace and sleep.

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Chapter Four
As Jon lies there in bed, his thoughts of the day clear and are replaced by thoughts of his very distant past, drifting back to the morning after and the shores of Britannia where it all began. Deeper back in time his mind regresses as he remembers peering through a fog so thick and unavailing on that fateful morning after. Only regrettably, the fog soon cleared to reveal the night’s horror, the shredded and mutilated corpses of his warrior brothers. Jon crawled over the bodies to get to his father’s sword only to find that it was in two pieces. Looking around at the bodies, he fell to his knees, closing his eyes, hoping that this was all a horrible dream, that it would be just as it had been every time they landed here for the previous six months. He never told anyone of the nightmares, but he always woke to find none of the previous night’s events had ever happened. His men would all be there, hung over from the drinking as always. But when he opened his eyes, it was not to be. This time it was for real, and Jon hung his head at the sight. He gathered his strength and collected the bodies of his comrades. Dragging whatever was left into the hull of one the great boats, Jon stacked their remains into separate piles, placing their weapons on top of them. Once all that could be found was loaded he walked over to one of the fires, just barely burning from the night before, and pulled from it a large piece of wood that still held a flame. With the torch in hand he walked back over to the boat and tossed the burning wood in on top of the funeral pyre igniting the stack of flesh and bone he had collected. Then with all the strength he could muster, he launched the boat out to the sea and the morning tide took over to carry them on their final journey to Valhalla. He fell to his knees, exhausted, as the boat drifted out and burned. Jon looked around again to see still a few more scattered corpses. He had not really noticed them before now. He stared and was confused about
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what he saw. These headless remains resembled nothing human to him. More like a cross between a beast and a man. He gathered up their remains and set them to fire also, but not in a mournful or reverent way as it was for his men. It was more like a ritual cleansing one does to a diseased dead body that had died from a plague. Jon looked on, hoping the flames would send them back to whatever Hell they came from. The fires burned bright on both the ship and the shore all the while Jon stood there, watching, not realizing that he was truly just as dead as any of the burning corpses. Knowing that alone he had no way of navigating the huge boat that remained back across the channel to Gaul, he picked up the two pieces of his once mighty sword and started to walk off the beach in search of some sort of shelter to rest and regain his thoughts. He traveled over dunes of the marsh, which are becoming heavily doused with dew from the incoming night fog. He headed in a northerly direction not knowing why, but all the while feeling that was the way he needed to travel, almost as if he were being willed toward something. Hours passed and Jon could not tell what time it was. There was no light from the stars or even the moon, the fog continued to hold it at bay. He thought he was starting to go mad and wondered if it were not really he that had been killed in the previous night’s battle. Was he on the road to Valhalla? But where were the Valkyries, or for the son of a Viking Chief, the goddess Freya herself to take him there? Or could it be that he was in Hifhel and he was to be tormented for all eternity? Either way, alive or dead, he felt he had no choice but to continue on to whatever fate waited him. He started to regain his strength, but with this new energy, an unfamiliar craving started to arise, a hunger for something he could not comprehend. Then his body started to feel hot even though the air was cool. His blood fevered with an almost burning feeling in his veins. He decided his body must be reacting to some sort of venom that had been secreted from the beast that bit him last night. He looked down at his chest where the wounds had been inflicted. To his amazement, there remained almost no sign of an attack on him at all. There were but two small punctures above his heart and these had almost vanished now. They were like old scars that had healed. Jon was confused, but knew he must find shelter, food and hopefully, a wise-woman to stop whatever poison ran through his veins before he died, or worse, caused him to go insane from the burning inside. He continued until he saw above the mist a castle, way off in the distance, atop a high cliff above the sea’s shoreline. The ground started to gradually increase in steepness as he started toward the lone structure. He began to hear the howl of what he thought should be a dog or wolf, but he
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had heard both before and neither sounded like this. Jon gripped tighter on the hilt of the broken sword he still carried in his right hand. As he got closer to the castle, an unusual calm came over him and the burning of his blood started to subside. He didn’t know why, but in his mind, he felt this was where he was being led the whole time. Then as he reached the castle’s enormous doors the wound in his chest opened again as if it were fresh and Jon started to bleed. He quickly pressed his hand over the now gaping holes in an attempt to slow it down. He did not understand what was happening, he knew that only a scant few hours before it had all but healed. Jon pulled a rope hanging to the side of the door, which caused the ringing of a bell. A moment later, a servant showed up, peering through an opening in the door to see who was there. “State your business here, vagrant,” bellowed an old lady through the opening. “I have been attacked by a beast just a ways from here, and I seek shelter and help for my wounds,” Jon said. The old woman said, “You are a stranger to these parts.” “Yes, I am,” Jon replied. “But I mean you no harm,” he assured the old woman. “There is a beast or something roaming the marsh, and I would ask for shelter. I have gold to pay.” The small opening in the door closed and there was a moment of silence, then the door swung open. Jon, who had been expecting the old crone to be standing in the open doorway, was taken quite off guard by the sight before him. For now, in the entranceway, there stood an elegantly beautiful woman in a long flowing red silk robe, open in front, revealing a great deal of her breasts, just shy of exposing her more sensual parts. Her hair was shoulder length, so black that light disappeared into it as if it were a bottomless hole and her eyes were a deep crystal blue, a darker and more vivid blue than Jon had ever seen in any ocean he had ever sailed. Then the silence was broken as the woman spoke. “Who might you be, sir?” she inquired in an accent Jon did not recognize. “I am Jon Erik, and I would be in your debt if you were to grant me shelter.” The woman glanced down toward the two halves of the broken blade and said, “Are you asking me or telling me? If you mean us no harm then why the sword?” she asked. Jon looked at the sword pieces in his hands. He had forgotten that he was still carrying them.

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“I assure you, my Lady, I have seen enough death for this day. I only seek shelter,” he said, gesturing in a way that indicated the blades were of no threat. “How may I address the lady of the castle?” he asked. “I am known by many names,” she replied, “but you may address me as Nestasia.” The woman stepped aside and allowed Jon to enter. She stared at the wounds in his chest. “How did you come by these?” she asked. “A beast attacked me earlier,” Jon replied. She grabbed his arm and led him into a large dinning room. Seating him in a chair, she grabbed a pitcher of liquid, pouring some onto a cloth from the table. She started to wipe the wounds and as she did, they burned slightly. Strangely enough, they stopped bleeding and then quickly disappeared leaving not even a scar. Jon thought he was losing his mind. He was unsure whether he was alive, dead or bewitched. The only thing he knew for sure was that his broken blade was still in his hands. Then Jon started to get light headed, almost intoxicated. Now she poured some of the liquid into a chalice, telling to him to drink, and he did as she instructed. She stood Jon up and led him into a large bedroom, ornately decorated in gold, statues and artwork from lands far away. Two statues of big black cats trimmed in gold sat at the foot of the bed, along with golden serpents that wrapped around the pillars that donned each of its four corners. The cloth covering the large bed was made of black and gold silk with matching pillows all around. Nestasia opened her robe to reveal all of her ample figure. She walked toward the bed, dropping the robe to the floor on the way. Crawling onto the bed, she turned back toward Jon and called him. “Come Jon, join me.” Jon, with his mind somewhat spinning from the drink, questioned her. “How is it you call me by my name as if you know me?” “Of course I know you. I know everything about you,” she replied and then motioned for him to come to her. Jon's feet began to move against his will even though he attempted to stand fast. “You’ve poisoned me,” he said, still trying to resist her pull and looking for his sword only to find his hands empty. “No, Jon, not poisoned, cleansed,” she said smugly. “You are about to be given the greatest of all gifts. You are going to get to lie in a place that only a few emperors and kings have been privileged enough to know.” Jon reached the bed and Nestasia. She pulled him onto the bed placing Jon on his back, then she lowered her head until her lips met his. Then crawling on top of him she slowly worked her mouth down over his body
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loosening and removing his clothes as she went. Her mouth continued downward until she reached his now erect length. Jon’s mind was swimming from Nestasia’s rhythmic stroking and his passion finally rose to the point that he could no longer resist his own urges. Sensing that his blood was boiling now, she raised her head from between his legs and rolled over onto her back. With that Jon quickly, almost forcefully, entered her. Nestasia looked into his eyes and she watched as they started to turn red with lust. “Drink of me now, Jon. I have tasted you, now you must taste me. Then the bond will be complete.” Jon was no longer in control. His passion and lust were boiling over, and he was completely unaware of his transformation. His teeth were now fangs, sharp and poised, ready to strike. Nestasia arched her back ever so slowly, heaving her chest upward, almost pressing her breast to Jon’s mouth. Jon could hear her heart and with each beat, he felt the rush of her blood as it coursed through her veins just as if it were his own. Nestasia reached toward her breast with one of her long fingernails and cut deep into her chest above her heart. The blood started to flow and Jon could no longer deny his cravings. He lowered his head and suckled the blood from her breast. He drank with the thirst of a man in the desert and Nestasia moaned in pleasure. Then Jon fell back with his body convulsing and jerking. Nestasia got up and stood over the bed and watched as the last of Jon’s mortal soul died. “Not to worry, my love,” she said, picking up her robe. “You are being reborn into my world.” With those final words, the last of Jon’s human soul died and his body lay lifeless on the bed. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jon's body lies motionless on the bed as Jennifer’s voice comes across the video intercom. “Jon, hello, are you there?” He jumps up in a semi-aroused state from the dream, uncertain of where he is and almost gasping for air. He is unaware that he is in full view of the camera. Jennifer looks on at Jon’s completely nude body from below. Nice, she thinks to herself and then speaks into the intercom again. “Jon, are you awake?” Jon gets his bearings and realizes he has just flashed Jennifer a full frontal shot. He turns quickly and walks to the chair where he had tossed his jeans earlier; picking them up he pulls them on. He then turns once again to face the camera.
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“Yes,” he says. “I’m up.” Jennifer smiles to herself thinking, yes, I’d say you are. “Are you hungry?” she asks. “I thought maybe I would cook you breakfast but I can’t seem to find the kitchen.” Jon hesitates for a moment then says, “I don’t have one, I always just eat out when I’m here.” Jennifer thinks for a second to herself, well, this seems a little odd but, hey, he is rich and a bachelor too, so I guess that would make sense in a twisted sort of way. Then she says, “Okay then, but at least let me take you out somewhere since I can’t cook for you.” “Alright,” Jon agrees. “Just let me get dressed.” “Well,” she says, “don’t go to any extra trouble on my account.” Then she laughs to herself, knowing that Jon knows she got a good look at him earlier. “But if you must, hurry, I’m hungry,” she says, still smiling. This may turn out to be a good weekend after all, she thinks to herself. Forgetting that the camera is still on also, she leans over to pick up her garment bag. She unzips the bag and begins to change out of the t-shirt she had put on before she went looking for the kitchen. She pulls off her shirt and removes her panties, all the while standing directly in front of the camera. Jon, who is still upstairs, starts watching her now through the camera never saying a word. He never really saw her dance the night before and he can’t help himself as he drinks in her beauty while he watches her get undressed. Now completely nude, Jennifer then leans over and pulls out a black silk thong and black push-up bra that matches and tosses them on the bed. Next, she grabs a pair of jeans and a black V-Neck stretch t-shirt that has the name of a local bar on the front and throws them beside the underwear. She then stands up straight and she proceeds to get dressed, still in full view of the camera, with Jon watching, frozen the whole time, unable to avert his stare away from the monitor. Jennifer, now fully dressed, throws her clothes from the previous night into a little plastic bag she keeps for dirty clothes. Then she tosses everything back into the outfit bag. At this point Jon walks over to his closet and gets a clean t-shirt himself and puts it on. Then he walks back over and hits the button on the intercom to talk. His voice startles Jennifer as she jumps slightly. “Are you ready?” he asks, acting as if he doesn’t already know that she is dressed.

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“Yes,” Jennifer replies. Then she realizes that she, too, has been in front of the camera the whole time and wonders if Jon has seen her. “Hey,” she says, “this thing hasn’t been on the whole time, has it?” Jon, in a convincing voice, says, “I don’t believe so, but I wouldn’t know; I was getting dressed.” Then he smiles. Jennifer writes it off thinking that she really doesn't care if it was. She is just curious as to whether he watched her or not, sort of hoping inside that maybe he had. “I’ll meet you by the elevator,” Jon says, and then the little red light above the camera goes off. Jennifer quickly makes up the bed and grabs up her bag. After looking around to make sure she hasn’t forgotten anything, she walks out into the living room where Jon is sitting waiting on her. “Where do you want to go eat?” she asks. Jon stands and says, “I don’t know. Where would you suggest?” “Well, I know of a little restaurant over on Royal Street that I’ve heard has a great breakfast. If you want, we can go there.” “Sounds good,” Jon says, and they both head toward the elevator. "How did you sleep?" Jon asks as he opens the elevator door. They both step in and he closes it behind them. “Quite well, thank you. That bed is really comfortable and I was definitely tired. How about you?” Jon presses the button on the panel and the elevator starts to descend toward the garage. “Alright,” he replies, “I never really sleep much anyway.” The elevator stops and they exit walking back over to Jon’s car. As they get to it, Jennifer looks over to Jon and asks coyly, “Can I drive? Since I know where we’re going and all.” Jon looks at her and she smiles up at him with her most innocent look. “I guess so. Just be careful, this thing is no toy and it can get away from you really quick if you're not careful.” Then he hands her the keys. She grabs them, handing Jon her purse and bag, then runs around to the other side opening the door quickly, as if to not give Jon a chance to rethink his answer. She jumps in the driver’s seat and adjusts it to fit her as Jon gets in on the passenger side. Once situated, he buckles his seatbelt and opens the glove box, then presses the buttons to open the garage door and the outside gate. The doors start to open and Jennifer cranks the car, and then buckles her seatbelt. She sits in the driver’s seat grinning as the powerful engine warms up. Jon looks over at her and sees her enthusiasm as she anxiously waits for the doors to completely open.
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“Do you always get your way?” he asks. Jennifer turns and smiles, cutely shrugging her shoulders slightly. “But of course,” she says, “I’m the Princess.” Then she laughs and presses the accelerator, easing the car out onto the street. Jon closes the gates behind them. He pulls out a pair of sunglasses, his eyes being sensitive to direct sunlight, then closes the glove box and puts them on. “Now where are we going again?’ he asks. “Royal Street, right?” Jennifer turns and smiles her little smile again. “I’ve changed my mind. Let’s go to this place I know uptown and get an early lunch. We can sit outside and enjoy the day. That is, unless you have something else you need to do?” she says hesitantly. “Of course, what else could you possibly need to do that is more important than hanging out with me today?” Jon looks at her and laughs, a reaction that he has not experienced for many years. “Do you always get your way?” he asks again. “Of course.” she answers again in her completely convinced voice while smiling. “I told you, I’m the Princess. My grandmother used to tell me that all the time.” Jennifer pauses in the conversation as she turns the corner onto Decatur Street heading toward Canal Street, then she continues her story. Jon is listening in complete silence to her words. “When she gave me this necklace she told me that my family used to be very powerful magicians or something like that. That every tenth generation one girl is born to the line and she inherits all the power and knowledge from the previous generations.” Jennifer continues to talk and drive as Jon listens with an evergrowing interest. “It used to scare my mother when she talked about this kind of stuff. So when she told me that I was the tenth generation girl and not to tell my mother that she had given me the necklace, it always made me feel special, like a princess. I never really believed in all the magic stuff, but I guess the princess idea kind of stuck.” Jon is now starting to see why he feels so drawn to her. Her bloodline is of royalty in the way of the craft. He should have seen it before but maybe he didn't because she herself is so completely unaware of her own potential that the obvious stayed hidden from his senses. She isn’t projecting the gift because she doesn’t really know about it, except from stories told to her by

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the old woman. Maybe she is the one he needs to help him in his quest, he thinks to himself. “How does this person, you, come into having all of this power and knowledge?" Jon asks. “My grandmother used to say it was awakened in this person only after a great tragedy or something dire happened in her life where she would need to call upon it.” She slows and stops as they approach the light at Canal Street. “I used to wish all the time that I had some kind of special power. Then I could use it on some of the assholes that have been in my life, especially my ex when he pisses me off over my son.” The light changes to green and she continues going straight. “I figure that after the hell I went through over my divorce, if that didn’t do it, nothing will. I never really believed in it anyway. I just loved my grandmother and liked her stories. Besides, I got this really cool necklace to remember her by.” They pull up to another red light at the end of the road before going under the Mississippi River Bridge and Jennifer turns right, heading toward St. Charles Avenue. “Is your grandmother still alive?” Jon asks. “No,” Jennifer replies, “she died a month after giving me this necklace.” Jon breathes out a slight sigh of disappointment. He was hoping the old woman would be around to help him with some information about the history of their bloodline. Jennifer turns on to St. Charles Avenue heading away from the city. “You know, my son would love this car. He likes convertibles,” she explains. “He has a game today. I usually go, but my ex is filling in for one of the coaches who’s been out sick and I just hate the way he gets when his father is coaching him. Anyway, that’s enough of that. I don’t want to think about my screwed up life today.” Jon looks at her and can see that she genuinely misses her son. “So where are you taking me anyway?" “A little restaurant I know about down here close to the Loyola campus. They have the best pasta in the city,” she replies. They arrive at the restaurant and Jennifer parks the car on the street, across from the building. Both get out of the car and head toward the steps leading to the entrance. Jennifer tosses Jon his keys. “Now see, I didn’t kill you.” Jon, catching them, retorts, “I never had the slightest worry that you would.”
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They walk in and a young waitress leads them to the side deck. As they walk out Jon requests a table in the shade. “My skin is a little sensitive to direct sunlight,” he says. “It’s a family genetic trait. That’s why I am predominately a night person.” Jennifer looks at him. “A creature of the night, huh? You aren’t going to burst into flames on me or anything like that are you?” she questions jokingly. “No,” Jon says, “Nothing quite to that extreme. I just burn easily. Besides, the sun makes you age prematurely and believe me when I say I feel old enough as it is,” he says, attempting to make light of his needs. “Okay,” she says, and the waitress finds them a shaded table. “Do you know what you would like to drink?” the waitress asks. Jon looks at Jennifer and she replies first. “Bottled water, please.” “And for you sir?” the young girl asks. “The same for me also, please.” Jon replies. “Okay then, I’ll be right back with your drinks and menus.” Then she turns and walks off. Jon and Jennifer carry on more light conversation as the waitress returns with their water and menus. “I’ll give you a minute to look over the menu and I’ll be right back.” Both Jennifer and Jon nod in agreement and the waitress once again leaves. “What do you recommend?” Jon asks Jennifer. “What kind of foods do you like?" she queries. “Usually just rare meats,” Jon says. “So I wouldn’t even begin to guess at half of this stuff.” Then Jennifer asks, “Well then, would you like for me to pick you out something?” “Sure,” Jon says. “Just not too large a portion, okay, because I don’t usually eat this early in the day.” Jon and Jennifer continue to talk as they finish eating. Jon attempts to eat and does consume about half of his meal but has to leave the rest. Jennifer looks over at him. “Is the food alright?” she asks. “You’ve barely eaten anything. I would have taken you for a bigger eater.” Jon stares down at the plate and tries to play off the situation. “I used to eat more but I have been trying to watch myself over the last few years. I rarely eat before dusk anyway. I told you I’m more of a night person.” Jennifer looks around as the waitress returns.
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“Was everything okay?" the waitress asks. Jon and Jennifer both answer in tune, “Yes, everything was just fine.” The waitress picks up Jennifer’s plate. “Can I take anything else for you to give you some more room?” Jon reaches over, handing her his plate. “I believe we are all through here. Just bring us the check please.” The waitress leaves with the dirty plates and returns with the bill. Jennifer reaches for it but Jon beats her. “I was planning to pay for that,” she says. Jon pulls out two twenty-dollar bills and leaves them with the bill. “I know, but you need to hold on to your money for other things,” he says. “Besides, you bought the drinks last night.” They both stand and start to walk out. Once at the car Jon looks at Jennifer. “Oh, you can drive this time,” she says jokingly. Jon walks around the car and opens her door. “Thank you,” he says. Jennifer reaches over to open the driver’s side door as Jon comes around and gets in. “Where to now?” Jennifer asks. Jon hesitates for a second, as he readjusts the seat back to where it will allow him to operate the pedals then replies. “I’ve been thinking about what you said about your grandmother and the necklace she gave you. I’m fairly skilled in research on antiquities. I was wondering if you might want to know what it means?” He looks at her and she holds up the necklace. “Sure, why not,” she says. “We’re close to the campus library. We could run by there. They have a large collection of research material and they have access to the Internet also.” Jon cranks the car. “Great, you tell me where to go.” Then Jon pulls the car out and they head toward the college.

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Chapter Five
Jon and Jennifer spend hours at the library looking through books and on the Internet for information on runes, religions and the history of the lands where Jennifer’s family originated. Then Jennifer comes across a book on religion with an odd looking rune-like symbol on the front. She thumbs through it, looking at illustrations and footnotes but doesn’t notice anything so she places it back on the shelf. Then she reaches for another book close to the one she just put back. She pulls the new book from its spot and in doing so, she dislodges a couple of books beside it. They fall to the floor and Jennifer bends down to pick them up, a little embarrassed by the clumsy act. As she picks them up to place them back, she notices one of the books had opened to a page with a diagram of three symbols that look similar to hers. Jennifer notices that this was the book she was just looking through. She reads the caption at the bottom of the diagrams while walking back over to Jon. She sits down, placing the book on the table in front of her, about halfway between them both and points at the page. “Look at this,” she says. “These symbols, they sort of look like mine, yet different.” Jon studies the picture, then Jennifer’s necklace. “I think you’ve found something here.” Jennifer starts to read the pages immediately following the picture. As she reads, she discovers that each diagram corresponds to a name. “These are the names of Angels,” she says. “Apparently these have something to do with Adam’s first wife.” Jennifer looks at Jon. “According to this Adam had a wife before Eve. Her name was Lilith.” She continues reading on as the book explains the story behind Adam’s first wife. “It says here she left after refusing to be subservient to Adam. While away, she took up with a demon named Samael, as well as other demon lovers, giving birth to hundreds of demon children. God sent three Angels,
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Sanvi, Sansanvi and Semangelaf, to bring her back, but she refused to return. So God gave Eve to Adam and punished Lilith by sending the Angels again to kill her children. She took revenge for this act by killing newborn children, especially males. This went on until she went to the Angels and made a deal with them. She promised not to harm any child that bore the seal or amulet with one of the Angels' names on it if the Angels promised not to kill any more of her children. Believing that Lilith could bring about the end of all rebirth, the Angels agreed.” She pauses again to look at the diagrams on the preceding page. “My necklace is all of these symbols. A combination of all three names into one symbol.” Jon looks at the pages and then again at the necklace. It was as she had said; all three symbols melded into one. “I am familiar with the stories behind Lilith. She has continued to be feared in various cultures across many lands for thousands of years,” Jon says. “She is called the Mother of Demons. It is also believed by some that she was Cain’s real mother, not Eve, and that she drank the blood of Abel after he was slain by Cain.” Jon paused for a second. “You mean like some sort of a vampire or something?” Jennifer asks, while making a disgusted face. “Exactly like that, making her the first Vampire and Mother of all Vampires,” Jon says, then pauses again. Jon knew this story all right, he should, he had been created by a direct descendent of her bloodline. He looks again at Jennifer and sees a little bit of concern in her eyes as she holds the necklace up again, inspecting it closer. “Hey, you don’t believe in all this stuff about demons and vampires do you? This stuff is nothing more than myth and legend,” he says, trying to play down the situation. “Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she says, a little more at ease now. “Anyway, it looks very good on you,” Jon says, referring to her necklace. Jennifer is now smiling slightly. “Absolutely. I mean, I am the Princess, right?” Jennifer replies throwing her hair over her shoulder in a display of confidence and laughing. “Let’s get out of here okay? I’ve had enough creepy stuff for one day,” Jennifer says. “Sure,” Jon replies. "I’ll put the book back for you. Where did you get it?”

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“Over there in the religion section,” Jennifer says, pointing in the general direction where she had gotten the book. Jon picks up the book and walks back down the aisle. Carefully looking back at Jennifer, he then surveys his immediate surroundings to get his bearings and to check for any possible witnesses. Seeing no one, Jon jumps up, quickly, and high enough to set the book on the top of the twelve foot high bookshelf, laying the book sideways on the top board. Now it wouldn’t be seen by anyone, eliminating any chance of this book being checked out before Jon can come back to retrieve it tonight. He lands softly back on the floor without anyone being the wiser. He then quickly grabs a book off the shelf so when Jennifer turns to see him it looks as if he is returning the first book back to its original location. Jon walks back over to her, “Are you ready?” “Yes,” Jennifer says while looking at her watch. “Wow, look at the time. Did you realize that we have been in here for six hours?” Jon now looks down at his watch also. “No, I didn’t,” he says. “Well I’ve had fun, but, I really need to get cleaned up for work tonight. Would you mind if we went back to your place so I could do it there?" she says looking up at him. “Of course you can,” he says, “But do you have clothes?” “That’s not a problem,” she says. “There’s a little alternative clothing store just around the corner from your place. I’ve been looking for an excuse to go shopping anyway,” she says smiling. Jon looks at her, shaking his head and smiling back at her. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ They arrive back at Jon’s loft after going shopping. The elevator doors open and they get out, each carrying a bag. Jennifer takes the one from Jon’s hands and heads back toward the guestroom, tossing everything on the bed. “I’m going to get a bath now,” she says loudly so Jon can hear her. Jon walks back toward the bar. “Would you like a drink or something before you start?” Jon asks, his voice also raised. “Maybe a glass of wine,” she replies. “That might be nice.” Jennifer walks back into the bathroom and goes toward the shelves where she finds some bath-beads. She turns and walks back over to the large raised tub and starts the water, holding her hand under the faucet and adjusting the knobs until the temperature is suitable. Jennifer pulls off her

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shirt and has her pants unbuttoned and unzipped when Jon walks into the bedroom looking for her, holding her wine. “Jennifer,” he calls out, then he looks over at the bathroom. The door is wide open and Jennifer is standing there as she starts to remove her pants. They are halfway down when she looks over to see Jon standing motionless with a glass of wine in his hands. “Oh,” she says acting a little startled as she pulls her pants back up over her hips. “I forgot I left the door open, sorry,” she says mischievously, knowing all the while that she had done so intentionally. Jon stares at her as she walks over to take the wine from his hand with her pants still open and only a bra to cover her top. “Excuse me,” he says, “I didn’t realize you were undressing.” Jennifer takes the glass from his hand and sips the wine from it. “That’s okay. No harm done,” she says. “I still have most of my clothes on and anyway you saw more of me last night at the club I’m sure.” She is still surprised at how at ease she feels around Jon. Normally this would bother her some. “Speaking of which,” she says while walking over to the bed and her garment bag to pull out a clean pair of panties, “Are you coming by tonight?” Jon watches her walk around, trying not to make it too obvious that he feels this attraction for her. “I was thinking about it, maybe later. That is, if you don’t mind.” “No, that would be great if you did. I enjoy your company,” she says, sipping on the wine some more. “Well,” Jon says, “I guess I’ll let you get on with your bath.” Then he heads out of the room closing the door behind him. Jennifer sips the wine again, walking back into the bathroom. She places the glass on the edge of the tub and resumes removing her pants, then rest of her clothing, smiling because she knows Jon has an attraction for her. And for once, she thinks to herself, this one seems to be a nice guy and he definitely isn’t a bum. Jon stands outside the door for a second then shakes his head as if to clear his mind from thoughts of Jennifer’s half-naked body. He then walks over to the stairway that leads to his room and climbs the steps. Once at the top, he grabs the remote that opens his private vault, taking this opportunity to quench himself with the supply of blood. The vault door swings open and Jon walks inside. He quickly heads toward the refrigerator. After removing a previously opened bottle from inside, he pours the last of the contents into a large glass. Then he walks over to a microwave and heats it up. Once it has
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been thinned from the heat he removes it and quickly consumes about half of the liquid in the glass, barely waiting between gulps. He lowers the glass from his mouth and wipes the excess from his lips. Jon holds the glass up to the light thinking about what he used to be and about the library and the book. How absurdly ironic it is, that he, of all people, is trying to tell Jennifer that there are no such things as Demons or Vampires, he, who for hundreds of years has fed off the life’s blood of humans. He wonders about Jennifer’s bloodline and how she would react if she ever knew the truth. He turns up the glass finishing the rest of the blood. Jon sets the glass in a sink by the small bar in his room, after rinsing it out so the excess blood is removed and not left to dry in the glass. Then Jon walks over to pick up the remote again, and presses the button that seals the room, keeping his secret hidden behind the wall. He turns and heads back downstairs to pour himself a glass of wine. Jon walks out on the balcony to once again watch the sun disappear and feel the night's gentle breeze against his skin. As the darkness of night engulfs the city, Jon realizes he has spent more time in the sunlight in the last two days than he has in a long time. He has also spent more time with Jennifer than any woman he has known in an even longer time. She has most certainly aroused his interest on many levels. But, there is something more there than just his attraction. It’s like he recognizes her soul, almost like he has known her before in his past. Anyway, he can’t help but feel that she is somehow a key part of what is going on down here, so he needs to stay close. Jon continues to sip his wine as the light goes on in the guestroom. Jennifer walks in after her bath. Her hair is in a towel and she has another wrapped around her midsection. Jon turns to see her through the window. Jennifer reaches up to remove the towel that covers her hair, then begins to dry her hair with it. At the same time, the towel that is wrapped around her midsection falls to the floor, exposing her beautiful body. Once again, Jon is entranced, staring intently at the alluring sight of her naked form. But, he quickly regains his bearings and walks off the balcony before she knows he was there. Just before exiting the balcony he stops, turning to look down at the street, sensing another presence like he had last night at the Underground Dungeon. He stands there a minute surveying the street. Seeing nothing, he resolves that it must be his mind playing with him and that he is being overprotective because of Jennifer. This conscious revelation of his feelings of attraction for her bothers him and he tries to ignore the thought as he

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proceeds again to walk off the balcony going back inside to clean up a little also. Across the road, a shape peers out of the new darkness of night. The figure watches from the rooftop of the two-story building across the street from Jon’s loft. He watches Jennifer as she dries herself off, her body glistening from the moisture of her bath. Jennifer wraps the towel back around her waist, then walks back into the bathroom to finish drying her hair and putting on her makeup. With her departure from view, the form leaps to the building directly beside the one he was on and disappears into the night. Jennifer emerges about forty-five minutes later wearing a pair of jeans and a white v-neck tee shirt with her outfit bag slung around her shoulder. “Alright, I guess I’m as ready as I’m going to be,” she says perkily. Jon stands up from the couch, his long dark hair falling over his shoulders, wearing black leather pants, boots and a snug fitting black teestyle shirt of silk. “Okay then. Let’s go.” They walk over to the elevator and Jon opens the gate. “So you are coming by later tonight, right?” Jennifer asks. “I have to go take care of a few things first, but yes, I will be there before too late,” he says. “Good, I would like that.” The elevator stops and they walk over to Jon’s car and get in. Jennifer presses the buttons to open the doors and Jon pulls the car out onto the street and starts heading toward Jennifer’s club. Jon turns onto Bourbon Street just before the city blocks it off for the night. They pull up in front of the club so Jennifer can get out. She opens her door, but before she gets out, leans over, and kisses Jon on the cheek. “I really enjoyed today, thanks,” she says. “Me, too,” Jon replies. “So I’ll see you later on tonight right?” “Sure.” Then Jennifer kisses him again and gets out of the car. Jon pulls off as Jennifer walks up the steps. The girl at the front counter sees Jon and the car, then looks at Jennifer. “Nice!” the hostess says as Jennifer walks past. “Oh… yeah, and then some,” Jennifer says, smiling as she walks into the club. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Jon drives up Bourbon Street until he gets to a side street where he can turn back toward the interstate. He drives out of the French Quarter and takes the on-ramp heading back toward the Uptown area. He exits on St. Charles Avenue and drives toward the university library. He continues until he’s at the campus, entering through the large archway and metal gates. Jon parks in the visitor’s parking lot by the main entrance and walks across the campus to the library. A few minutes later he is at the building. He walks up the huge steps to the entrance, going inside. There is an older lady working the desk as Jon passes by. “We’ll be closing in few minutes, so you better hurry,” she says. Jon looks at his watch and sees that it's five minutes until eight. “Thank you,” he replies. “I will only be a minute.” He looks around to get his bearings then walks down an aisle, heading toward the religion section where he had hidden the book earlier. He walks to the spot below where the book lay. Once again he looks to see if anyone is nearby and then he jumps up, retrieving the book from the top of the shelf then floats gently down to the floor. He walks back toward the exit. As he is about to walk out, the librarian at the desk stops him. “Aren’t you going to check that out, sir?” Jon looks down at the book then walks over to the desk. “I’ll need to see a student ID please,” she says. “I’m not a student here, but a friend of mine is, and I’m checking this out for her,” Jon says. “I’m sorry, young man, but no ID, no book.” The woman reaches to take the book, placing it on the counter. Jon looks around again, then he looks into the old woman’s eyes and without saying a word she reaches over and stamps the book as checked out, then slides it back to Jon. “Thank you, sir. You have a nice weekend now,” she says as Jon picks the book back up and heads out the door. The old woman starts to close out her station for the night never knowing what had transpired. Jon starts his walk back across the campus. As he approaches his car he sees a group of fair-sized men standing around it. As he gets closer, he starts to recognize a few of them as the boys he had dealt with at the bar the night before. He continues to walk toward them knowing this is not going to be good. The group starts to spread as Jon approaches, already raising their voices. “Here comes the bastard who broke my hand,” says the one leading the group. “I knew I recognized this car.” “Watch him,” another one says, “he’s tricky and fast.”

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Jon continues to walk toward the group, holding the book in his hand and keeping in the shadows. “What seems to be the problem here, gentlemen? And I do use the term gentlemen loosely,” Jon says. “This is the problem, asshole,” the leader says, holding up his arm with a cast on it up to his elbow. “You fucking broke my hand last night and I couldn’t play in the game today.” “Yeah, and we lost because of you,” says another, off to the side, while tapping a baseball bat in his hands. “So we figured we would work you and your car over as payment for costing us the game and hurting our team captain,” says yet another, also holding a bat. Jon looks around and shakes his head. “I told you boys last night that you really didn’t want to do this. But it appears that there is no better substitute for higher leaning than the road of hard knocks." “Fuck you! You long haired faggot!" the boy with cast says. “Bust up his car first, then we’ll work on him.” He barks out his commands and a boy close to Jon’s car raises his bat, getting ready to deliver a blow. Jon takes the thick book he has in his hand and throws it like a Frisbee, catching the boy in the temple and dropping him like a stone to his knees, and with that, a free-for-all ensues. Forgetting the car, the boys move toward Jon to attack. The closest boy swings his bat at Jon's head. Jon catches it with his left hand and punches through its center, splintering the bat like a toothpick. He then turns toward the attacker, hitting him with the base piece of the bat across the face, sending the boy off his feet backwards with blood spewing from his nose and mouth. The leader now swings at Jon with his cast-covered arm. Jon ducks and it catches another boy to Jon's right square on the jaw, knocking him out cold. There are still four boys left standing and they all rush Jon. Jon now leaps straight at them and his eyes begin to glow. “You fools,” he says in a hellish voice. “I told you to walk away!” Jon lands right in front of them. Moving with an unbelievable speed he clotheslines two of them almost breaking their necks and sending them flat on their backs and out for the count. With only the leader and one other boy remaining, Jon grabs the boy with the cast. Then he looks over at his attacker’s last standing accomplice. “Boy, if you want to live to see another day, you better get the fuck out of here right now. Or I swear by all that is unholy I will gut you where you stand and feast on your flesh while you’re still breathing.”

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The boy sees Jon’s blood red eyes glowing and the now Vampiristic features in his distorted face. He drops his bat in total fear, tripping over it as he turns to run, too frightened to scream. Jon then turns to the boy with the cast who is now so scared he has urinated all over himself. “I warned you, boy, and I only warn once. I told you that you didn’t want to come to my world but you couldn’t leave well enough alone.” Jon is now holding the boy’s head between his hands with their faces only inches apart. “You think because you go out on a field and bang heads you know what it's like to do battle. Not even close, you fool. Your hand would have healed in time. But I promise you that what I do this time will not.” The boy is too afraid to move as Jon stares into his eyes and projects the brutal images of his past victims into the boy’s subconscious mind. “Now every time you close your eyes or go to sleep you will see these images and feel their pain as they were ripped apart and fed upon.” The boy’s face goes blank and his eyes begin to water as the images are burned into his mind forever. He sees the flesh as it was peeled back from the bones of these poor unfortunates. He feels their terror as their flesh is devoured before them, and their life’s blood drained; all the while they are still completely conscious and mentally aware of the brutality that is being unleashed upon them. “Welcome to my world boy, Happy Halloween,” Jon says and he drops the boy, still shaking in horror, to the ground. Jon walks back over to his car and picks up the book laying beside the boy it had hit, who is still unconscious from the blow. He brushes it off and walks around to get in his car. “Fuck this. I have no patience for the stupidity of false warriors.” He cranks the car and tosses the book behind the passenger seat. Then he backs out quickly, not turning on his lights until he gets well out of sight of the parking lot. Once he is back on St. Charles Avenue, he heads back toward the French Quarter. As he gets to Lee Circle, so named for the statue of General Lee standing tall in the center, he glances up at the statue. He had met the man once. General Lee was a true warrior and a man to be respected. Jon was not very often impressed with mortals. And now, for some reason his mind turns to Jennifer and how impressed he has been with her. She continues to seep into his thoughts and it bothers Jon a little bit that he could feel something for her. Attachments to mortals can be costly on many levels. Jon has learned this lesson more than once and has not repeated this foolishness in many, many years. Yet he still could not get her out of his head.
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Jon looks down at his watch. It is still early. He decides to go back to the loft and clean himself up from his little scuffle. Then he will try to see if he can find out more about the symbols on the necklace and Lilith from the book he has procured at the library. He goes past the new casino, crossing Canal Street. He then makes his way up Decatur Street, heading toward his loft.

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Chapter Six
Jon arrives at his loft and quickly heads upstairs to his bedroom. He walks over to his desk and turns on one of his state-of-the-art computers, which is connected to a secure Internet connection. He sits down and starts entering commands to allow him access and in a few moments, he is connected to the World Wide Web. He thumbs through the book from the library and finds the page where Jennifer had found the diagrams of the Angels’ names. Once there, he types in a search for each name; nothing returns. Then he types in the name of Lilith and multiple sites come up. Jon scrolls through the information looking for something, yet not quite sure of what. He goes back to the book, reads past where he and Jennifer had read earlier and comes across the name of a sorcerer from Egypt who lived in the time of Cleopatra. The book goes on to tell the story of how this powerful magician was a High Priest to Cleopatra’s brother, Ptolemy XIII, and how the brother had instructed the priest to create a likeness of Cleopatra, a familiar, as it called. Ptolemy’s plan was to kill his sister, have the familiar take her place, and not contest his rule. Then he would control the familiar and have no one left to challenge him. When Ptolemy exiled Cleopatra and took the throne, he sent the magician with Cleopatra. When the real Cleopatra tried to raise an army against him in Syria, it was believed that Ptolemy did as was planned and killed the real Cleopatra and replaced her with the sorcerer’s imposter. But time went by and the priest grew tired of being in exile. Also, he had fallen in love with his own creation. So he plotted with his new Cleopatra to take back the throne from the unsuspecting Ptolemy. This they did with the arrival of Caesar in Alexandria. But the plan backfired against the sorcerer, because even though Caesar proclaimed Cleopatra Queen of Egypt after killing Ptolemy in 47 BC,
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his new Cleopatra took Caesar as her lover and left for Rome. When Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC, she returned to Egypt renouncing her sub ordinance to the High Priest. Enraged and jealous for the years he lost, the priest plotted her demise, but by then she had become too smart and powerful. Realizing that her creator was trying to return her to the astral plane from whence she came, she killed him. In order to insure her metaphysical presence on earth, she drained all of his blood and drank it. This also allowed her to gain his knowledge over magic, and more importantly, power over the world of the undead. Because Cleopatra hesitated to take sides in the civil war following Caesar's death, Mark Antony summoned her to explain her conduct. Realizing her opportunity to regain power in Rome and Egypt, she cast a spell on him and he fell madly in love with her. They lived together until Antony was forced to return to Rome and marry Octavia, sister of Octavius, later known as Augustus. While Antony was on campaign to the east, still bewitched by her spell, he sent for Cleopatra; she came to him in Antioch and they were married. This went on until Augustus declared war against Egypt and Mark Antony and Cleopatra were defeated. In 31 BC, Mark Antony committed suicide after hearing a false report of Cleopatra’s death. Cleopatra, having realized her throne was lost to Rome, and knowing that Augustus would humiliate her as a trophy, decided to kill herself as well. Cleopatra chose her demise to be from the bite of an asp, in accordance with old tradition, but in the moment before her death, Lilith, known as Isis by the Egyptians, visited her. Lilith, who had always favored strong women, gave her the opportunity of eternal life in exchange for her soul. She accepted the pact and became one of Lilith’s demon children, a Vampire created from the source of all of the undead. The book goes on to explain how she changed her name from Cleopatra to Nestasia taking the “Ne” part from the Egyptian word meaning “to Curse or Damn” and Stasia from the Greek meaning “Reborn”, so together they appropriately mean “the Damned Reborn”. Jon stops and thinks of how Nestasia must have left Egypt and traveled on the back of Rome as it expanded its power and reached across the known world. After centuries, she ended up on the shores of Brittany where she took his life and soul almost twelve hundred years ago. He never really knew all of her story anyway, only that she was from Egypt and was very old. He did not stay that long with her, long being relative to a twelve hundred year old Vampire. Now this is starting to make sense to Jon. He remembers where he has seen these symbols on Jennifer’s necklace before. These were the symbols which worn by the newborn children and expectant
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mothers of the clans in the adjoining villages that tended the lands around Nestasia’s castle. Jon continues to read and discovers a reference to a passage of an ancient text, which was supposed to have been translated from an old black magic spell book known as a Grimoire. The text describes a spell for the invocation of a very powerful spirit, who would plunge the world into darkness. The reign of terror would last a thousand years; essentially turning the earth into Dante’s worst depiction of Hell, where upon the creatures of the damned would feed upon the newborn children of mortal man like animals bred for slaughter, in turn, one day bringing about the end of all life. The book also tells of an ancient coven of witches that holds guard over a talisman that will protect all newborn life and that this amulet, when wielded by the chosen guardian, holds the key to driving back the demon head to the land of the damned. Jon continues to read more about the ceremony and the preparation for the Invocation. The only time the Invocation can take place is during the Season of the Dead at the peaking of the full moon. The ceremony takes place over the entire time of the Season, starting at midnight on the Witches’ New Year. After the High Priestess successfully takes in the spirit to complete the Invocation, a sacrifice is needed. The Priestess needs to feed upon the life force of an innocent male child to make the bonding of their souls permanent. After which, the child would remain at the side of the Demon mother as a twisted abomination of mans’ innocence stolen, mocking all of the heavenly hosts and their father in their defeat. Jon sits back from the reading of this book of revelations. He knew of the ancient prophecies foretelling of the coming of Lilith, the Demon Mother of all Vampires, and his mother in essence. He also knew of the prophecies telling of her reign of terror on man. What he had not known for sure before now was that somehow the key in stopping all of this was the talisman of the Angels. Could Jennifer be the guardian with her necklace being the talisman of which the book spoke? If so, Jennifer had been told that she would only realize her power with a great tragedy. What is about to happen and when, Jon wonders. The time for the Season of the Dead is only days away. Jon closes the book and presses a button on the underside of his desk, which opens his vault. He walks over and places the book in the casket along with his swords. Jennifer doesn’t need to see this, he thinks to himself. Then he turns and walks out of the vault back to his desk, where he presses the same button and closes the huge door.

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Jon looks over at the clock and sees that hours have passed while he was doing his research. He heads back downstairs and walks over to the bar, where he pours himself a glass of wine. Sipping from the glass, he walks over to open the window and goes out on the balcony. He stares out at the city streets and he listens to the muffled noise of Bourbon Street, only blocks away. He thinks about Jennifer and the man from last night. Jon knows the man is one of Nestasia’s as he could smell her unmistakable scent on the coat he retrieved. He just isn’t sure why else he feels he knows this man. He is not an old Vampire; his skills were too unseasoned. An older Vampire would have been able to detect Jon as well while they were in the bar. This minion was there by no accident. It seemed everything kept coming back to Jennifer. But why, Jon wonders. Is this is more than her necklace? He finishes his wine and looks down at his watch. It is now 10:45. Jon walks back in off the balcony closing the window behind him. Then he heads over to the bar, depositing the glass in the sink behind the bar. He walks over to the elevator and presses the button to go down. As the elevator stops, Jon opens the gated door to exit. He walks over to his car. Getting in he cranks it up and for some reason thinks of Jennifer from earlier today doing the very same thing. Jon can feel his mind constantly drawn to thoughts of her more and more the longer he is around her. He can’t seem to escape her sweet innocently seductive look and her interminable charm. He knows he must be careful. Yet she has managed to arouse a lust in Jon that he has not known in centuries. Jon opens the garage door and steers the Viper out onto the road, then heads back toward the parking lot where he had been the night before. He drives down Decatur Street until he sees the side street he needs to turn on to get to the parking lot. He pulls up to the valet station and Steve runs out to greet him. “Back again, sir?” he asks, slightly winded from his abrupt approach. “Yes,” Jon says, exiting the driver’s seat. “Same deal as last night, Steve. Okay?” Jon says, handing him half of a fifty. “Yes, sir. She’ll be right here waiting for you when you get back.” Steve says, taking the torn bill from Jon’s hand. “Steve,” Jon stops for a second. Yes, sir,” Steve responds. “You’re in college right?” Jon asks. “Yes, sir. I’m going to go to law school.” Steve reports enthusiastically. “That’s a fairly bloodthirsty profession, don’t you think?” Jon says.

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“Yeah, maybe a little, but you gotta go where the money is,” Steve replies. “I guess,” Jon says. “How late are you here?” “Til six a.m.,” Steve answers. Jon walks out of the garage toward Bourbon Street; Steve parks Jon’s car in the same spot as the night before. There is still quite a crowd and Jon maneuvers his way through the sea of people toward the gentlemen’s club where Jennifer works. He walks up the steps and the hostess recognizes him from earlier when he dropped Jennifer off. Jon stops and starts to pull out some money “You’re the guy who dropped of Princess earlier right?” she asks. “Yes,” Jon replies. “Go on in then, no charge for you.” Jon sticks the twenty-dollar bill, which he had intended to use to pay the door fee, in a tip jar by the register. “Thanks!” the hostess says, smiling and looking Jon over. Jon proceeds into the club and the hostess follows his walk with her eyes all the way through the door. “Yes indeed, and then some!” she says to herself as she fans herself in a motion suggestive of being in heat. Jon walks into the club and Jennifer happens to be on the front stage right by the door. The sight of her provocative moves in her little thong sends Jon’s pulse racing. He has been catching glimpses of her here and there but her dance here is very erotic and even Jon, who is not easily aroused, is not immune from its effect. He walks over to the stage to say hello and Jennifer immediately spots him and heads in his direction. Jon stops at the edge, standing with Jennifer now directly in front of him. Her body moving with the heavy rock beat of the music, she puts her hands on Jon’s broad shoulders, arching her body and thrusting her breasts out, slightly brushing Jon’s face. Then she drops down to her knees still holding onto his shoulders. She leans as if she were about to kiss him, but stops just short of his mouth and instead rubs her nose against his affectionately. “Hey you, I’m glad you made it,” she says. Jon pulls out another twenty-dollar bill and offers it up to her. Jennifer pulls out her garter and says, “Thank you.” Then she kisses him lightly on his lips. “Go get a table in the VIP area and I’ll find you when I get off stage.” “Okay,” Jon says. With that, Jennifer springs up, continuing her dance and working the crowd.

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Jon’s heart is still racing as he continues to watch her for another moment and he struggles with a desire that is starting to conjure pictures of Jennifer naked in his mind. Jennifer turns to catch him still staring and she smiles back at him. Jon regains his thoughts and goes to find a table, heading back toward the VIP area. The girl at the steps recognizes him from the night before and lets him through without hesitation. “How are you tonight sir?” she asks politely. “Fine,” Jon replies as he walks past, heading toward a table in the corner that appears to be vacant, close to where he had sat the previous evening. Jon sits down and an attractive waitress shows up, offering to take his drink order. Jon orders a drink and hands her a platinum credit card to open a tab and she leaves. The DJ starts talking, winding up the set for the dancers on stage, announcing the next group, and pitching to the crowd for tips and applause for those girls leaving. The next set of dancers comes out as Jon studies the crowd and his surroundings, a warrior trait that has never died. He watches the new girl on the main stage as she starts her performance. The girl’s music bangs out a hard rock beat as fog comes up from the stage. The dancer emerges through the smoke wearing a black slingshotstyle thong and a shiny silk-looking black cape that covers her to the floor. Jon looks on and senses an evil about her. She is not an immortal, but she has the air of the undead about her. The dancer spins and unties the robe exposing her large uncovered breasts underneath. The robe falls and she makes a face baring a very well made pair of fangs at the crowd in the front row and then leans down as if to bite a well-dressed customer in the front row. The crowd beside her stage starts to get into the dance and a few men throw money on the stage. Right then Jennifer walks up. Jon turns and stands politely and she sits in a chair next to his, leaning over to give him a hug. “Nice crowd tonight,” Jon says as he looks over the bar. “Yeah, I’ve been doing pretty well tonight but that new girl, the feature, she’s been making a killing,” Jennifer says as she points to the main stage. “Oh, so she’s not a regular here?” Jon says in a passing sort of way so as not to draw attention to his concern. “No. She just showed up for the first time last night. She was gone by the time you got here though. Features are usually out early,” Jennifer says while watching the stage. “She’s great though, isn’t she, with the whole vampire thing?”
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Jon turns to Jennifer and says, “She’s okay, but not nearly as impressive as you.” “Nice suck up there fella, you get an ‘A’ for that one,” Jennifer says smiling and she leans over, kissing him on the cheek. The waitress walks back up with Jon’s drink. Jon directs her attention to Jennifer and instructs her to get Jennifer something. “Just a bottled water at the moment. Thank you.” With that, the waitress leaves through the maze of chairs, making her rounds through the crowd before heading back to the bar. “People have been buying me drinks all night and I need to slow down some,” Jennifer says, her speech showing slight signs of the effect from the alcohol. Jon picks up his drink; sipping it and finding it hard not stare. Jennifer is wearing a very short little plaid schoolgirl skirt with a white blouse that has little skulls across it and is completely open, revealing a sexy black bra. All while she sucks on a candy sucker. Her inhibitions slightly lessened, Jennifer smiles to herself as she catches Jon trying not to make it too obvious in his admiring of her in her little outfit. She just continues to suck on the candy in an innocently seductive way and stares out at the stage. The waitress returns with Jennifer’s water. “Oh, thank you,” Jennifer says, twisting off the top and drinking it quickly and letting a little bit trickle down her neck to her chest. “So what do you think of my outfit?” she asks, semi-posing for his inspection, knowing how hard he has been trying not to stare. “If I showed up at your house would you give me a trick or a treat?” she asks putting the sucker back in her mouth, pretending at innocence and rolling it around on her tongue. Jon picks up his drink, taking a larger than usual sip. “I believe you have an unfair advantage here,” he says, taking yet another gulp. Jennifer stands, putting her hands on her hips, and says, “Now just whatever do you mean?” Then she bends over as if to pick up something from the floor, revealing her nicely rounded bottom and little black thong. Still bent over she cocks her head around the side seductively, catching Jon staring at her ass and she laughs mischievously. “Oh, I just can’t imagine.” Jon says and Jennifer falls back into his lap and throws her arms around his neck. “Mike told me if I wanted I can leave early tonight since we have so many girls. That is, if you want me to?” she says as she looks in his eyes. Jon looks at her with his desire for her increasing.
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“Sure, I mean, yes. That would be great.” Jennifer hops up from his lap. “Good. I have to do one more set before midnight then I can take off. I’ll go tell Mike now that I am leaving early.” Jennifer leaves and the waitress comes back over to Jon’s table. “Close me out please,” Jon says and the waitress leaves, quickly returning with Jon’s receipt. He signs it, leaving a generous tip as he always does, then returns the signed part back to the young girl. “Thank you very much, sir,” she says, seeing the amount. “Please come back again.” “I’m sure I will,” Jon replies, and then picking up the remainder of his drink, he heads down to the main area and over to the stage where Jennifer is about to perform. The DJ announces her and Jennifer comes out on stage to the beat of another rock song, skipping onto the stage like a little girl. Then, grabbing the pole, she throws herself into a hard spin around it, wrapping one of her legs around it and turning herself upside down, letting her skirt fly up. A couple of guys in the front row whistle and the DJ continues to make little comments as she slowly spins herself to a stop, sliding down the pole to the stage. Her upper back touches first then she rolls over backwards into a split with her sucker still in her mouth. She turns, seductively looking over the crowd and sees Jon off to one side. She pops up dancing, then spinning so that the skirt flies out giving full view to her thong. Jennifer works her way around twirling until she is directly in front of Jon. The DJ is still talking, but Jon is focused on Jennifer as she stops spinning and turns her back to him. Pulling up her skirt, slowly exposing her beautiful bottom, she then bends over looking at Jon through her legs and smiling. She stands back upright and turns around, and now facing Jon she drops to her knees and slowly removes her shirt leaving only her black bra to cover her breasts. She tosses her shirt to the side, then turns to look at Jon directly in the eyes while placing one finger in the corner of her mouth and smiling sweetly at him, teasing him with her make-believe innocence. Then she leans over and places both hands on Jon’s shoulders, placing her chest in direct line with Jon’s eyes as she brushes his face with her bra. She repeats this a couple of times as she moves her body to rhythm of the music. Then she plops down in front of him, spreading her legs and hiking up her skirt to her waist and slightly grazing with her index finger the very small shiny black material that covers what everyone at the stage right then is dying to get a glimpse of, even Jon. She slides forward, placing a leg on

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either side of Jon. Jon is entranced as much as everyone else is at the stage at that moment, all wondering what is about to happen next. Jennifer then, in a caressing motion over her breast, unhooks the clasp that holds her bra together and lets it open, partially exposing her breasts. Smiling and still sucking on the candy in her mouth, she removes the sucker seductively, leans over, and whispers in Jon’s ear. “Now that I have your undivided attention, would you mind holding this for me? I’ll be back to get it later.” She gets Jon to open his mouth and places the sucker in it. “You’re bad and you definitely have an unfair advantage here,” he says. “Oh really, do you want to spank me?” she says teasingly, then she leans back, arching her back as she removes her bra then places it around Jon’s neck. Jon pulls out two twenties as Jennifer pulls her garter out to allow him to place the money under it, snapping it back down with a popping sound. She smiles and thanks him, kissing him lightly on the cheek, then she rolls backwards away from Jon into another split. Then she grabs the pole, pulling herself back up and in a spinning motion, now removes her skirt as she continues to dance for the rest of the crowd. Jon watches Jennifer, entranced in her beauty and the dance to the point where he hasn’t noticed the feature dancer watching him and Jennifer as well. She is over by the bar and she recognizes Jon for what he is and knows that he is not with the ones she serves. She watches and studies Jon and his reaction toward Jennifer. She can tell he is one of the older ones but she is unfamiliar with him, except for the stories told by the others. With him next to her it would be hard to get the necklace from her, she thinks to herself. Jon continues to watch Jennifer dance until she finishes. Before she walks off stage, she walks back over to Jon and retrieves her bra. Jon stands to meet her and she takes her hands to both sides of the bra and pulls his face close. She leans down to lift the garment from his neck and she kisses him again on the cheek. “Just give me few minutes and I’ll meet you by the bar,” she says, and then she turns and exits the stage. Jon turns and heads over to the front bar where the feature dancer is standing. She sees that he is coming toward her and tries to move away, but another customer stops her and tries to buy her a drink. She refuses politely and attempts to leave again, this time avoiding anyone that might impair her departure.
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Jon moves quicker, trying to get closer to her to see what he might discover. He knows that he will be able to smell her master once he is close enough so he hastens his step through the crowd and they pass with Jon bumping her slightly, causing her to spin and face him. “Excuse me,” he says apologetically, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bump you.” She nods, “That’s alright.” She continues to try to walk through the crowd as Jon tries to detain her with more conversation. “I really enjoyed your performance earlier.” “Thank you,” she says responding quickly, still making her way away from the bar and especially Jon. The bartender calls out across the bar, “Hey, Angel, your cab is here.” She turns back to Jon, “I’m sorry, what is your name?” she asks. “Jon Erik,” Jon replies, extending his hand toward her. She returns the gesture and shakes his hand. “I’m sorry Jon, but I really must be going, I have a cab waiting.” In that brief encounter, though, Jon has detected the scent of the man from last night on her. He also retrieves a name from her thoughts, an ability that works best on those who consort with the undead as minions, a sometime necessity for those Vampires who are unable to go out in the light of day. Minions’ minds are more open to control and thus sometimes can be read by one as advanced in age and experience as Jon. Jon releases her hand and she disappears quickly through the crowd and out the door to meet her cab. Jennifer pops up from the crowd, grabbing his arm. “Hey. You ready to get out of here?” she asks. Jon turns to see her wearing a skirt similar and not much longer than the one she had worn on stage earlier and Jon’s attention is quickly diverted to her. She steps up to him kissing him this time on the lips. “Sure,” Jon says. Jon picks up her garment bag and they walk out of the club. Once they are in the lobby he turns to her. “Any place particular?” Jennifer looks at Jon again and she kisses him again this time with more passion. “Does that give you any ideas?” she says now with a lustful look in her eye. “I wore this dress thinking you liked it. You do like it, don’t you?” She spins around as she had done on stage, teasing Jon with her seductive innocence. “I think you know I do,” Jon replies as he drinks in her beauty.
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“I knew it,” she says laughing, “You are just a rich dirty old man aren’t you?” “Older than you might think,” Jon says. “Besides, everybody needs to have a purpose in life, don’t you think?” he says jokingly. “You’re bad,” Jennifer says, kissing him again. “And then some,” Jon retorts. “I like the sound of that,” Jennifer says as they walk out onto the street. They arrive at the parking lot. Steve, seeing Jon walk up, immediately gets his car and pulls it around, opening the door for Jennifer as they both get in. Jon gives him his other half of the torn bill as a tip and he drives off with Jennifer holding on to his arm. Jon drives through the French Quarter side streets heading back to his loft. They arrive and Jon quickly parks the car, closing the gate and garage door behind them. Jennifer grabs her bag and jumps out of the car, racing over to the elevator and beating Jon there. She closes the door behind her. “I’ll see you upstairs,” she says coyly. Then she blows him a kiss through the grating as the elevator disappears to the top floor and Jon’s bedroom. The elevator returns moments later empty and Jon gets in with his mind racing with thoughts of Jennifer. He feels his desire starting to mount knowing that for him it is a very fine line between a Vampire’s lust for physical passion and lust for blood. He also knows that he has not felt this way with any one mortal or Vampire in ages. The elevator stops on the third floor and Jon gets out. Jennifer already has one of her favorite CDs playing in the stereo and is sitting in one of the chairs that partially fill Jon’s enormous room with her legs crossed seductively, causing her skirt to climb dangerously high up her thigh. This part of the room is set in a den-sort of atmosphere with a large Persian-style rug covering the hardwood floor in front of his entertainment center. His custom-made bed, which is about one and half times the size of a traditional king size, sits off to the side of this area with an unobstructed view of the entire room. Jon’s office of sorts is across the room and a fully stocked wet bar with sink and small refrigerator sits against the wall opposite Jon’s desk. “I wondered what this floor would look like, especially when you said that this was all your bedroom,” she says, spinning the chair in a circle. “I mean, you really can’t see much of the room from the video screen. This is huge.” She brings the chair to a stop. “It seems to suit you. Sort of a bigger than life kind of thing I guess.” Jon walks over to the bar and picks up two wineglasses.
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“Thank you, I think. Drink?” he says, lifting them up in gesture to the question. “Yes, please, some wine would be nice,” she says, still looking around the room and staring at Jon from behind. Her eyes start at his broad shoulders, then move down past his wide v-shaped back to his toned waist and then focus on his body below the belt line. “You know, you really do have a nice ass,” she says with her head tilted slightly as if to get a better prospective from an angle. Jon finishes filling their glasses, then turns to walk over to her. “Thank you, again,” he says as he hands her a glass. “And I would just like to return the compliment by saying that I think yours is perfect.” “Thank you, yourself.” Jennifer takes her glass sipping her wine. Jon walks over to an end table, picks up a lighter from underneath and lights a large glass candle that is sitting on top. He does this a few more times, lighting three more candles on another end table and two more on the coffee table. Then he takes a seat on the footstool directly in font of the chair where Jennifer is sitting, taking a sip of his wine now also. Jennifer has been watching him and she feels his eyes upon her body like hands caressing her skin. The sexual tension is mounting, and now Jennifer takes a little larger than usual sip, deliberately spilling a little on her shirt. “Oops,” she says and quickly hands her glass to Jon. “Hold this please.” She jumps up quickly, unbuttoning her shirt and taking it off. Jon looks on, holding the two glasses, as Jennifer tosses her shirt to the floor. He is now just below eye level with Jennifer’s chest and close enough to count the stitching in the seams of her lacy black bra. Jon looks up at her, obviously pulled in by her seduction. “I didn’t want to get anything on your chair,” she says, smiling devilishly. She slowly leans over, taking her wine from Jon’s hand and placing her breast directly in Jon’s face. This is all Jon can take. As Jennifer takes her glass, Jon places his glass on the floor, while placing his other hand in the small of Jennifer’s back and catching her body as she tries to sit back in the chair. Now that his other hand is free of the wine glass, he slowly caresses his way up her beautifully sculpted legs, watching his hand as it slides along her satin-like skin up and under her skirt, until it reaches the top of her upper thigh. At the same time, his other hand moves downward, following the curve of her perfect tight ass, until he slides that hand under her skirt as well. Now both hands are on her hips. Jennifer’s breath starts to quicken. Jon leans in and
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starts kissing her stomach as he works his way down the front of her skirt. He can smell the excitement in her scent as he undoes the little metal buckles on the front of the skirt, causing it to fall to the floor. This leaves Jennifer wearing nothing but her lacy black bra and a very small black silk g-string panty. At this point Jon moves to the floor from the chair, and eases Jennifer back in the chair then starts to kiss her pubic area through the silk and leans her back, spreading her legs. He then kisses her flat, taut stomach and moves upward toward her breasts. Jennifer sets her glass down, then unhooks and removes her bra while staring down into Jon’s eyes as he starts to suck gently on her full round nipples. He alternates his attentions back and forth, caressing one of Jennifer’s firm breasts while kissing the other. He continues to kiss her breast then he slowly starts to move his mouth again southward across her stomach and over her silk panties to the inner sides of her thighs. Placing his hands back on her hips, he slowly starts to pull her panties down, at first with his teeth, then letting his hands assist the rest of the way. By this time Jennifer is starting to work her fingers through Jon’s long hair, pulling at him and spreading her legs even more, allowing Jon to have full view of her closely trimmed beauty. Her panties are on the floor now and Jennifer starts to moan with pleasure as Jon kisses her inner thighs then works his tongue inside her. He then slides one hand from her hip to her stomach and then maneuvers it back down next to his mouth alternating pleasuring her with his fingers and his tongue. His other hand also moves from her hips to behind her cradling her bottom gently pushing her forward to meet Jon’s mouth then playing with her from behind. Jon continues with this licking and probing her with his tongue and fingers until Jennifer arches her back and her body starts to shudder in a climax. Once she gradually comes back to her senses, she sits up in the chair and pulls Jon’s head and arms away from her. She removes his shirt quickly, and then running her hand over Jon’s smooth muscled chest, she kisses him passionately. Jon picks her up and carries her over to his bed, setting her on the edge gently, still kissing her. With Jon standing in front of her, Jennifer unbuckles his belt, then unbuttons his pants, now returning the favor and kissing Jon on the front of his pants. She quickly unzips him pulling his pants down to his knees and freeing Jon’s member from the constraint of his leather jeans. Jon is also very aroused as she takes him in her mouth bringing Jon’s erection to its fullest. Jennifer then lays Jon back on the bed, removing his boots and pulling off his pants, pausing in between to keep Jon’s passion up with the sweet caressing of her hands and mouth. Once Jon’s pants are off, Jennifer crawls
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on top of him and kisses him, starting from where she has him in her mouth, then moving higher, kissing his stomach then moving on further upward. Jon’s hands are gently running though her hair, caressing it and brushing it away from her face. As Jennifer climbs his midsection, Jon’s hands glide downwards over her soft skin to the small of her back, and then lower to caress her bottom, massaging and probing her tenderly between the softness of her inner thighs. Jennifer, moaning slightly, continues upward slowly, moving her mouth and tongue around the nipples of Jon’s well developed chest, sucking and lightly biting on each. Then she moves onto his neck kissing and licking it, running her tongue up over his chin until finally reaching Jon’s mouth. They engage in a long passionate kiss, exploring each other’s mouth with their tongues, while Jennifer sits straddling his midsection and rubbing her moist mound up and down against his throbbing member. She doesn’t quite let him inside of her; only teases him as her lips massage him sliding up and down on him with her pelvic grinding. Then, when Jennifer can no longer control her desire to have him, she rises up slightly and eases down on Jon, pushing him deep inside her. She leans over to meet his lips again and they kiss wildly as they move and get into a rhythm. Their passion runs high and Jennifer climaxes a few more times until finally Jon is at his peak of tolerance and can no longer hold himself back. He grabs Jennifer’s hips and rolls her over on to her back. She flows with his movement and Jon is now on top, with Jennifer’s legs spread wide, one leg over Jon’s shoulder and the other in his hand. Jon continues his thrust with an increasing intensity until Jennifer is peaking again. She brings her legs down and wraps them around his waist. They both start to climax and Jennifer locks her legs around Jon’s midsection squeezing as her orgasm intensifies. Jon’s eyes begin to glow red and he falls forward, hiding his face and thrusting deeper and longer as his passion has reached the point of no return. He continues his momentum until they are both drained of strength and lying motionless in the pool of their bodies’ passions. While Jon’s body convulses slightly as his orgasmic shudder slowly subsides, he keeps his face hidden, buried in the pillow beside Jennifer’s head until he knows there is no danger of revealing himself to her. Once he knows he is able to show his face he raises up his head, meeting Jennifer’s lips once again in a long affectionate kiss, and then caresses her beautiful face as he stares into her eyes. They lie there in silence for a moment until Jennifer finally breaks the quiet air. “I knew you were a dirty old man,” she says, laughing softly.

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“And then some,” Jon says, smiling back at her. Jon rolls off from atop of her and she rolls into him placing her head over his arm and on his chest. “Are you always like that in bed?” she asks. “I don’t know. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been with anyone,” he replies reflectively. “Well,” she says, “we’ll just have to keep that from happening again then, won’t we?” Then she playfully kisses his chest. “You use your mouth very well for an out-of-practice dirty old man,” she says blissfully. “You’d be amazed at what I can do with my mouth,” Jon replies, knowing that pain and pleasure sometimes run hand in hand for him “Hum, I’ll have to take you up on that challenge,” Jennifer says. In the quiet moments of the after-glow of passion, Jennifer starts to nod off. Jon slides out from under her and she curls up on one of the huge pillows that are now scattered all over the bed. Jon gets up and goes behind the bar to pour himself a mixture of blood and wine that helps to calm his other lust. He walks back over to the bed, so lightly he glides across the floor so as not to disturb Jennifer in her slumber. He then jumps up, floating onto the back of a high-backed chair, perfectly balanced in a perched position, kind of resembling a human gargoyle on the side of a building. Looking down on Jennifer and sipping on the glass of blood-wine, he just sits there watching her sleep, still breathing in the aroma of her body on his. He has known many women before, both mortal and immortal, but none have ever had this kind of affect on him. He continues to sip his wine, wondering where this will take both of them, admitting to himself that he does like her much more than he should have allowed himself.

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Chapter Seven
Sunday arrives to find Jennifer calmly sleeping in Jon’s bed and Jon still roosted, watching over her like some God’s twisted perversion of a Guardian Angel. Jennifer’s breathing has a steady contented rhythm as Jon moves nimbly, jumping down and landing like a feather without a sound. He walks over to his enormous bathroom. He turns on the water and steps inside the shower. The rushing noise of the water wakes Jennifer. She sits up in the bed, smiling, and stretches while looking around the room for Jon. The splashing sound of the shower now registers his probable location and she slides out of bed, heading toward the bathroom. Jennifer pokes her head around the corner to see the shower similar to one in the guestroom but twice the size. Jon’s back turned to her, she stops and watches him as the water runs over his body causing his skin to glisten from the recessed lighting of the shower. She creeps over lightly trying not to alert Jon of her presence, which unknowing to her is almost impossible. Jon is very aware of her but never turns, letting her think she has caught him off guard. She reaches for the handle of the glass door of the shower and opens it quickly, poking her head inside. “Hey, you,” she says and now Jon turns abruptly as if taken by surprise. “Want some company?” she says with a devious look in her eye, like a schoolgirl whose parents are away for the weekend. Jon smiles slightly at seeing her. “Good morning, you,” he says and Jennifer steps in, walking over to Jon and giving him an affectionate hug and light kiss on the lips. “How did you sleep?” he asks. “Like a rock. I feel great. I love your bed,” she says, stepping now into one of the many streams of the six showerheads. With her back turned to Jon, the water caresses her petite body and Jon, still quite taken with her beauty, is almost unaware of how hard he is
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staring. She turns and starts to soap her body working it into a foamy lather and catches Jon semi-aroused in an entranced state. Smiling to herself, she asks, “How about you? Did you sleep well?” Jon, still looking at her, catches himself and replies quickly as to divert any attention to the affect she is having on him. “Very well, thank you,” he says, stepping under a stream of water in an attempt to cool the desire that is starting to rise within him again. Jennifer smiles and continues to soap her body. Jon finishes rinsing off while watching Jennifer out of the corner of his eyes. She turns, her front facing Jon again, to rinse off. Jon turns his face slightly, shaking his head. The attraction he feels for Jennifer is almost more than he can contain. Jon turns to Jennifer, “I’ll see you when you get out,” he says, then kisses her on the top of her head and exits the shower. Jon walks over to pick up a towel and starts to dry himself off. Jennifer continues to shower but is now talking to him through the glass. “Are you hungry?” she asks. “I’m starving.” Jon finishes drying and wraps the towel around his waist. “Sure. Are you wanting to eat any place in particular?” he replies as Jennifer finishes her shower and exits the glass enclosure. “I don’t know. You pick this time,” she says, walking over toward Jon and the towel rack, picking out a large one to dry herself with. “Where do you keep your hair dryer?” she asks while drying off her back. “I don’t have one,” Jon replies. “I just keep the one for guests in the bathroom downstairs,” he says. “You mean you have this long beautiful hair and it’s all natural, and you do nothing to it?” she asks in a slightly annoyed tone at the possibility. “I have never really needed one, my hair dries quickly,” he replies. Jennifer now wraps her body in the oversized towel, then turns to Jon and makes a playfully childish miffed sort of face. “Well, I guess the rest of us mere mortals will have to go downstairs to finish,” she says then she jokingly sticks her tongue out and walks out of the bathroom to go to the guest bathroom downstairs. After she leaves, Jon reaches for a smaller towel to finish drying his own hair. He massages it over his hair once and like magic, his hair is dry and perfectly straight. He tosses both towels into a large chute in the closet then walks into the bedroom. Walking over toward his closet, he sees Jennifer’s clothes from the night before partially strewn around on the furniture. He walks over to gather them up and as he does, he stops for a second because he can still smell her scent on them. He lays them in a pile on the bed then walks over and into his spacious closet. Turning on the light
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he looks around and grabs a pair of black jeans then a plain white v-neck Tshirt tossing them both on the unmade bed. Then he grabs a pair of black leather cowboy boots and some socks. Jon dresses quickly and heads downstairs, gathering Jennifer’s things as he goes. Jennifer is still in the bathroom drying her hair as Jon enters the guestroom. He walks over to the bed and places her clothes on it next to her outfit bag. As he does, he notices she has laid out her necklace on the table beside the bed. He walks over and picks it up, studying the engravings more closely. As he places it back on the table, the blow dryer in the bathroom cuts off and Jennifer enters the bedroom and is startled for a second. “Oh shit!” she says, almost dropping her towel. “I brought your things down,” Jon says while pointing to the bed. “Oh, yeah, thanks. I forgot about those,” she says now walking toward the bed and catching her breath. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Jon says. “No, no, that’s okay. I just didn’t hear you come in with the hair dryer and all. It’s okay, really,” she says. Jon starts to walk toward the door, “I’ll leave so you can get dressed.” “Okay,” Jennifer says. “I’ll be out in a minute.” Jon exits the room closing the door behind him. Jennifer packs up her clothes from the previous night in a little bag then removes her towel, dropping it on the floor. A few minutes go by and Jennifer emerges, garment bag in hand, wearing jeans and a thin purple sweater top cropped to expose her midriff and unbuttoned revealing her cleavage slightly and her red bra. “All ready,” she says and Jon stands up from the chair where he was sitting. “Alright then, let’s go.” They both head for the elevator. The elevator reaches the basement and they walk over to the car. Jon walks around to open the passenger side door for Jennifer and she gets in. She leans over and opens his as Jon walks around the front of the car with Jennifer watching him the entire way. “You know, you really do have a nice ass,” she says. “Thank you,” Jon says, a little off balance at the comment. “No, really, a couple of the girls made a comment after seeing you the other night and they liked it.” Jon gets in the car and says “Well, I guess tell them I said thank you to them also.” Jennifer smiles. “You’re not used to compliments are you?” she asks.
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“Not from someone as beautiful as you,” Jon replies. “Whoa, another really good suck up there. You’re getting really good at this,” Jennifer says, laughing and kissing him on the cheek. “Hey, you know me, I’m just a rich dirty old man, remember,” he says, joking along with her. “With a nice ass,” Jennifer says, adding to Jon’s sentence. Then she wraps her arm around his and leans over on his shoulder as Jon pulls the car out of the garage onto the street. “After we eat, do you mind taking me home?” she asks, already knowing that Jon will not have any problem doing so. “Sure, no problem,” Jon says. “You know I get my baby back today. I can’t wait to see him. I sure hope that asshole ex of mine hasn’t got him in a pissy mood,” she says, sitting back upright again in the seat. “Do you mind if we stop and get a paper somewhere? He loves the comics and I thought maybe I’d take him to see a movie tonight.” “Sure,” Jon says as he turns onto Decatur. “Mind if I play some music?” she asks. “Boy, you sure do ask a lot of questions,” he says, smiling at her. “The CDs are behind the seat,” Jennifer playfully sticks out her tongue then leans over, pulling out a case, and selects one. She inserts it into the player and turns up the volume of the stereo. “I don’t know, I just have a funny feeling. I guess I’m a little anxious about Chayse coming back. I always seem to have a confrontation with his father lately when he brings him back. Sorry.” “Don’t worry about it. I was just picking at you,” Jon says. They arrive at the restaurant, getting a paper out of a newspaper vending machine before going inside. Once inside they are seated and the waitress takes their order. Jennifer is thumbing through the paper when she comes across an article about a mugging at the college. “Hey, listen to this,” she says in a slightly excited tone. “Remember the library we went to yesterday? Well, apparently some guys got attacked close to there last night.” Jon looks up from his water with some interest as Jennifer reads. “It says here that some students from the college were badly beaten near the campus library somewhere between eight and nine last night. The victims, mostly members of the football team, were all beaten severely, with the toll leaving one in a coma, two in intensive care, and two more with broken jaws, both of which had to be wired shut. And one of these boys needed immediately surgery to remove teeth that had been shattered and
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wood from the end of a baseball bat that had apparently been used to cause the damage. It says that only two were still conscious when campus security arrived.” Jennifer continues to read, “One boy, who had apparently suffered a broken hand from the night before, was the quarterback of the team. He was found totally untouched and conscious but was in tears and hysterical. He kept screaming about some monster and visions of people dying with flesh being ripped from their bodies and blood being sucked out. He had to be restrained and sedated. The other conscious boy has sustained severe head trauma in the temple region and he is experiencing slurred speech and amnesia from the blow. All of the victims are under police surveillance at Charity Hospital. It is believed that at least one more student was involved but he cannot be located at this time. The New Orleans Police Department believes this may have been gang related and are still looking for the boy who it is believed fled the scene. The police and Crime Stoppers are asking for anyone who knows of his whereabouts or saw anything to please call in.” Jennifer puts the paper down. “Jesus Christ, what a mess,” she says. “Can you believe that we were just there only a few hours before this happened? What in the hell is going on around here lately?” she says, in amazement of the news. “Has the whole freaking world gone crazy or what?” Jon puts down his water and reaches over, grasping Jennifer’s hand. “It will be alright. Surely the police will find whoever did this,” he says with a note of genuine concern for Jennifer’s feelings. However, as for himself, he feels no remorse in the knowledge that it was he who had beaten these boys within inches of their pitiful lives. As far as he was concerned, he had let most of them off easy. That one stupid kid just had to push it all the way. If Jon wasn’t so preoccupied with the things at hand he would have slaughtered them all and fed on them like the stupid beasts they were, but mutilated corpses would draw more attention than he needed right now. The waitress returns with their food and they both start to eat with Jennifer obviously still bothered by the news article. “It seems that things just keep getting worse around here all the time. It’s like there’s an evil just waiting to descend on the earth,” Jennifer says with uneasiness in her voice. “I guess when I read things like this it makes me wonder what kind of world my son is going to grow up in.” Jon looks on, sensing Jennifer’s feeling of helplessness. “You know, you never told me your son’s name,” Jon says, trying to lighten the mood of the conversation and take Jennifer’s mind off the previous night’s events.
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“No, I guess I never did. Chayse, his name is Chayse spelled with a Y. I wanted his name to be unique,” Jennifer starts to smile now. “And boy does it ever fit him. I think I cursed myself with that one,” she says laughing slightly. “I swear, it seems I have to chase his little ass everywhere we go. When he was a baby, he was notorious for crawling off and then when he started walking, Christ. The little shit damn near killed me trying to keep up with him. It seems I am forever chasing him.” Jennifer continues to eat and go on about her son, now in a much better state of mind, completely forgetting about the newspaper article. “He can be such a little shit sometimes but then he’ll go and do something so cute. Like the other week, I had to get onto him about staying outside after dark.” She smiles even bigger as she leads into her story. “Then a few days later he was out playing with some of his little friends and around dusk he comes flying in the house apologizing because the sun had just started to go down and he thought I meant for him to be home right then.” Jennifer now sits up straight, beaming with pride. “He comes running in, breathing hard and saying, ‘I’m sorry, Mommy, I tried to hurry home before it got dark.’ When I looked outside there was still a good thirty to forty-five minutes of light left and I told him he could go back out and play some more but to be back when it was really dark. The whole time I just kept thinking, he does love me! He does listen to me! I really am his Mommy and he does pay attention to me,” she says almost glowing, and then sighs slightly. “I swear I love that kid so much sometimes I think my heart will burst. He’s my whole world. I hope he never grows up.” Jennifer sits there a moment, obviously reflecting on her story, then looks at her watch, “Speaking of which, the little devil will be home in a few hours.” Jon looks at his watch also. “Ok, let me pay for the check and I’ll get you home.” He reaches over for the check, reviews the total and leaves ample cash for the meal and a gratuity for the waitress. “Oh yeah, you never told me where you live, either.” Jennifer starts to laugh, “I guess that would help, huh? I live across the lake. I’ll show you. It’s easy enough to get to from the highway.” They both stand up and Jennifer looks over at Jon. “Well if it’s any consolation, I did tell you my name right off and believe me that is more than I usually do with anyone. Of course staying all weekend at your house is much more than I have done with anyone since I was a wild little teenager, which by the way I enjoyed and appreciated immensely. Thank you,” she says, then gives Jon an affectionate kiss.
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Jon stands there a moment, looking into her eyes then he raises his hand and gently brushes through Jennifer’s hair then down the side of her face. “Well if it’s any consolation to you, I never let anyone stay the weekend with me and I haven’t enjoyed anyone’s company nearly this much in what seems like centuries,” he says, and for Jon, in regards to enjoyment, it truly has been just that, centuries. They leave the restaurant with the waitress thanking Jon. Walking around the car, Jon opens up the door for Jennifer. “Your carriage awaits you, My Lady Princess,” he says jokingly to her. “Thank you, kind sir,” she retorts with a fake upper-crust style accent. Jon goes back around, getting in the car himself and starting up the powerful engine. Jennifer leans over, wrapping her arm around his again and they head off down the road. As they near the highway, Jennifer instructs Jon to head toward the lake. She turns up the stereo in the car loud enough to counter the wind as it rushes by their heads as they head back through the city and out toward Lake Pontchartrain. Once they are across the long bridge that traverses the lake’s length, Jennifer gives Jon further directions on how to reach her home. They arrive in front of her house a short while later. Jon pulls up in front of a modestly sized home with Jennifer’s SUV in the driveway where Rick and Marcus had left it as per her instructions. Jennifer gets out, grabs her bag and digs through it, looking for her keyless remote for the vehicle. In the process, she pulls out a few pieces of clothing and unknowingly drops her necklace from the bag onto the floor of Jon’s car. “Here it is,” she says as she holds up the device like a prize she has just won and then lays it on the seat beside her. After stuffing the clothes back into her bag, she picks the remote up and lifts it from the seat. Then she and Jon both walk over to her truck. “I sure hope Rick left my car key under the floor mat like I asked. I lost my spare set the other weekend and I still haven’t found them.” The vehicle chirps as the doors unlock. Jennifer opens the driver’s door to find the key exactly where it should be. “Great,” she says, picking it up. “Want to come in for a minute? Chayse won’t be home for another forty-five minutes or so,” she says, closing the vehicle’s door and locking it again with her remote. “Sure,” Jon says and they walk over toward the house.

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“Excuse the mess, but I stayed at a friend’s house all weekend and I didn’t get a chance to clean up,” she says facetiously as they walk inside. “I’m just going to start a load of clothes real quick.” She heads off toward the back of the house and her room to drop off her clothes. Jennifer yells from the end of the hallway. “Have a seat and make yourself at home. I’ll only be a minute.” Jon looks around the room and sees pictures of Chayse everywhere. He is a cute little boy, small-framed like his mother, with dirty blonde hair. Jon picks up one picture in particular that has caught his eye. It is of both Jennifer and Chayse together at what appears to be some kind of school outing. Jennifer is holding Chayse with both of her arms wrapped around him. Jennifer is smiling and her head is tilted, slightly leaning over and just barely touching his. Chayse is wearing his school uniform and sitting in her lap with his eyes squinted from the sunlight that glistens in his blonde hair. Jon can see the love Jennifer has for the child and for a moment, he feels a little empty knowing that he has never known such a feeling for anyone. Jennifer returns and sees Jon standing there, holding the picture in his hands. “Oh God, don’t look at that one. I didn’t even have makeup on that day,” she says and quickly crosses the room like she wants to take it away. Jon turns slightly as if to block her attempt and continues staring at the picture. “I like it,” he says with true feelings. “I think you look beautiful here.” Then he places it back in its previous resting-place above the mantel. “I tried to talk the nuns out of making me take that picture. I was running late that morning and I just threw on some clothes but they wouldn’t hear of it, so there I am in all my glory.” “Where did he get all the blonde hair, his father?” Jon asks. “No, from me. I am really a natural blonde. I just got tired of everyone thinking I was stupid so I dyed it and just never went back. I like the red better anyway,” she replies. “Well you have a good looking boy,” Jon says. Jennifer looks up at the picture and touches the glass above Chayse’s image. “Yep, I sure do make pretty babies, don’t I?” she says matter-offactly. Jon turns toward her and says, “Well I guess I better get going. I imagine that it wouldn’t be a good thing for me to be here when your husband brings him home.” He leans down to kiss her. “Ex husband with the emphasis on the ‘ex’ part,” she retorts as she leans in to meet his lips.
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They kiss for a moment and then Jon turns to head toward the door. Jennifer follows, walking with him all the way to his car. Jon turns to her and she hugs him and kisses him soulfully. “When can I see you again?” Jon asks. “I work again on Tuesday at the restaurant. If you want to you can come by and see me there,” she replies anxiously. “But you can call me before then if you like also.” Jon looks at her. “You never gave me your phone number, either,” he says and they both start to laugh. “Well,” she says, “I guess I better fix that then, hadn’t I? Do you have a pen?” she asks. Jon walks around the car and opens the glove box, retrieving not a pen but his cell phone from inside, then walks back over to Jennifer. He turns it on and says, “Okay, what is it?” Jennifer recites a number to Jon as he programs it into his phone. “Now, that’s to my cell phone and it’s always on me. But it does have voice mail if for some reason I don’t get to it, so just leave me a message and I will call you back.” They kiss again and Jon gets in his car to leave. Jennifer closes his door for him and leans over one last time to kiss him and say goodbye. “Call me or come see me on Tuesday,” she says, then looks down at her watch and notices the lateness of the time and the sun starting to set in the sky as Jon cranks the car. “I will, on both,” he says. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As Jon starts to drive off and almost as he pulls out, another vehicle pulls up and a little boy gets out, running over toward Jennifer with arms outstretched. “Mommy, Mommy, look what I got!” Jennifer bends down to meet Chayse with her own arms out wide and he leaps up into her arms. “Look what Daddy got me. Isn’t it cool? It’s a new game.” The boy proceeds to show her his new toy. On the other side of the vehicle a man is gathering up a small suitcase and a pillow from the behind the seat of his pickup truck. He walks around the front of the vehicle and toward the Jennifer and Chayse.

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“Who’s in the fancy car?” he asks in an obnoxious voice. Jennifer’s face changes expressions quickly as her attention is refocused to the man who is standing before her. “A friend, as if it is any of your business,” she replies with an obvious annoyance in her tone at the question. “Chayse, take your toy and go in the house. Mommy will be right there,” Jennifer instructs as she kisses him on the forehead and the little boy goes running toward the house, oblivious to the hostile mood that exists between the two adults. “Can I have his bag and pillow?” she asks as she reaches for them. “No,” the man says, backing away from her slightly. “I asked you a question. Who the hell was that?” he says, now raising his voice. “Come on Danny. Do we really have to do this now?” Jennifer says holding out her hand trying to remain calm. The man reluctantly gives her the child’s belongings but continues to interrogate her, “Come on Jen, I think I have a right to know who is hanging around my son.” Now Jennifer starts to lose her temper. “Look, you ass, you gave up the right to ask me anything when you cheated. So don’t even start to lecture me on anything about rights, you understand.” She grabs Chayse’s things and starts toward the front door of the house. Danny reaches out to grab her arm and Jennifer looks down at his hand. “Are you sleeping with him?” he asks in an even more angry tone. “Danny, first off, get your fucking hands off me. Second, it’s none of your damn business and third, this discussion is over.” He releases his grip. “Now, if you want to tell your son goodbye, you better straighten your ass up and drop this nonsense before you really piss me off.” They walk toward the house together. As Jennifer opens the door, she yells inside, “Chayse, your Daddy’s leaving, come tell him goodbye.” Chayse emerges from his room and runs to the front door. Jennifer sets his things on the floor by the door and Danny bends down to meet the boy’s stride. “See ya buddy,” he tells the little boy and he hugs him. Then he stands and Chayse grabs hold of Jennifer’s leg. “Look Jen....” Danny starts to talk but Jennifer cuts him off in midsentence.
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“Danny, I think you’ve said enough for one evening, now goodbye.” “Alright, but this discussion is not over yet,” he says, trying to assert some authority unsuccessfully over Jennifer. “Danny, don’t make me go off on you in front of him, now go. He’ll see you in two weeks.” With that said, he leaves. Jennifer looks down at her son as he watches his father leave. She really hates to put him through this kind of thing and she knows he is starting to notice the subtleties of his parent’s discourse. “Mommy, can I go out and play some?” he asks looking up at her. Jennifer looks down at him. “Now you know it is too late for you to be out playing.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ At that moment Jon is reaching the other side of the bridge and for some reason, he looks down as light reflects off a shiny object in the passenger seat. He reaches over to discover that it is Jennifer’s necklace, which must have fallen out of her bag when she was looking for her keyless remote. He leans across the passenger seat and retrieves his cell phone. He locates Jennifer’s number and presses the button to dial. Jennifer’s phone rings and rings then her voice mailbox answers and Jennifer’s voice starts to talk. “Hey, it’s me. I can’t answer the phone right now so leave a message and if you’re lucky I’ll call you back.” Jon ends the call. “I have never been known for being very lucky,” he says out loud and exits the first place he can past the bridge. It is dark now and an unsettling feeling of urgency comes over him. He guns the accelerator, hastening his pace as he turns the car around, heading back across the lake toward Jennifer’s house. He arrives in front of Jennifer’s house with a pickup truck sitting in almost the same spot his car had been just shortly before. Parking the car quickly, Jon looks around as he gets out. He walks around the truck and he sees the passenger door open and a mutilated body lying just inside. The glove box is open and a pistol is clenched in the fist of the dead man. Jon knows immediately knows that this was Jennifer’s exhusband and he moves across the front lawn in a blur of speed no human eye would detect. At the front door, he sees the living room in shambles and Jennifer lying in a massive pool of her own blood on the floor. Jon bends
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down to check her. She is still alive and trying to scream, fighting to stay conscious and protect her son. “Jennifer!” Jon says, as he looks around quickly looking for signs of her son or his body, finding neither, He decides that Chayse is obviously not in the house. He hears her voice, just barely audible and leans down over her. “Chayse! They took my baby. Oh God, Chayse!” She is completely unaware of who it is over her, only that it is not one of her attackers. “Help my baby. Don’t let them hurt my son. Please, oh God, don’t let them hurt my son.” Then she cries out with all she can muster, “Chaayyssee!!” Jon lifts her head, “Jennifer, it’s Jon. I can help you but I need you to tell me that you want to live. That you will do anything to get your son back, make any sacrifice.” Jennifer looks in Jon’s eyes and now she recognizes her savior. “Jon, oh God, they got my baby. Please help me, please help me get him back.” Jon now has her head in his lap and looks directly in her eyes so she will understand. “Jennifer, I can save you but you will need to do exactly what I tell you, alright? Alright?! Jennifer?! Can you hear me?!” Jennifer nods. Then John extends his arm and with a finger that has now grown an extended nail, slices through his flesh causing his blood to flow quickly and freely. He holds it over Jennifer’s mouth and instructs her, “Jennifer if you want to ever see your son again you must drink this, it will stop the bleeding and keep you alive until I can get you back to my home.” Jennifer’s eyes start to roll back into her head and Jon slaps her face to keep her conscious. “GODDAMMIT JENNIFER!” Jon is now screaming at her. “DO AS I TELL YOU OR YOU WILL DIE AND SO WILL YOUR SON. NOW FUCKING DRINK!” Jennifer struggles to open her eyes. Her vision is blurred but she can still see well enough to recognize Jon’s face. She fights to maintain consciousness, then she opens her mouth and Jon holds his bleeding arm above it, letting his life force drip into her mouth. Jennifer chokes slightly as she drinks the bright red fluid, completely unaware of what is taking place. As she drinks, the bleeding from the tear in her neck stops and the wound slowly starts to heal. She continues to drink and chokes a little less then she passes out from her wounds and the transformation that is starting to take place. Jon leans down, kisses her forehead, and strokes her blood soaked hair. Then Jon starts to feel an emotion foreign to him, even when he was
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mortal, genuine pain and regret, partly from the sight of her torn body but even more from the knowledge of what he has just done to her. “Oh my dear Jennifer, I am so sorry. Please forgive me for what I have done. But there was no other choice.” Jon lifts his head up. With blood red tears in his eyes, he looks to the sky as if searching for redemption from any Deity that might grant it. But there is none there to absolve him. Then he lets out a deep blood-curdling howl that is so powerful, its percussion starts shattering all the glass in the room, all the windows, the mirror above the mantle and every piece of glass on every picture frame in the room. When it subsides, the room looks like there was an explosion from inside. One of pictures that broke has fallen directly beside Jon, just missing Jennifer’s head, which is still on Jon’s lap. Jon looks down; it is the one that caught his eye earlier with Jennifer and Chayse at the school function. He picks it up and stuffs it under his arm as he scoops up the still unconscious Jennifer. Cradling her like a baby Jon covers the length of the front yard quickly. When he reaches the car, he places her in the passenger seat, securing her in her seat with the safety belts and places the picture in her lap under her hands. Then he leaps over the front of the car, seating himself, and quickly cranks the car. Jon takes a last quick glance around to be sure no else is watching. Fortunately, there are no witnesses to see the car and their getaway. Nailing the accelerator, he wheels the car around in the street and heads out back toward the highway. Once he reaches the bridge, he slows the car back to an acceptable speed so as not draw any unwanted attention. Jennifer fades in and out still mumbling. “Chayse! Run Chayse! Oh God, baby run.” Then she passes out completely, clutching the picture frame tightly in her hands. Jon runs his hand through her hair as it blows in the breeze and touches her face, gently, with the tips of his fingers. Then he turns his attention back to the road as the car races across the bridge and back to Jon’s loft.

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Chapter Eight
A man walks into the large parlor style room and bows low, then kneels. There is a beautiful woman with long black hair at the far end of the room, petting one of two large Rottweilers. She stops and turns to see the man’s face and she is not pleased by his expression. “My lady, I have bad news,” he says, still on his knees. “What, tell me quickly!” she commands, gesturing for him to rise. “The girl and her necklace…” The man hesitates. “Yes, go on. What of them? Is she dead? Do you have it?” the woman asks with anticipation in her voice. “No, Highness,” the man answers. “No to which, you stupid fool? Am I to be forced to read your mind for your answer?” “No, Highness.” “Then tell me, no to which question?!” she bellows at him. “Both, Highness,” the man replies timidly. “What do you mean both? Are you telling me that not only did you not retrieve the talisman of the Angels, but that the girl is also still not dead?” The man can see her anger growing. “Yes, Highness, that is correct on both accounts, but we did not walk away empty handed,” he says as he tries to compensate with more information, hoping this will divert her anger from him and maybe cause it to lessen slightly. “And what, pray tell, have you to compensate for such an enormous screw-up such as this?” she says, her mood still unfazed. “The child, Highness, the girl’s son. We were able to retrieve him,” the man says, hoping the news will have a positive affect on this dark situation.
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“Hum, that does shed a slightly different light on things,” she says as her tone lessens slightly. “Still, this does not explain why you have failed in every other aspect of your task.” “She did not have the necklace on her nor was it in any of her bags. Angel assured me it was with her the other night and I assumed she would still have it but it was not to be found,” the man continues humbly. “Well, that explains the necklace. If I need to I will deal with Angel for such a mistake.” “Yes, Highness.” “So then, why is the girl not dead?” she asks in a disgruntled tone. “I had left her for dead but…well…” the man stammers with his words and the woman cuts him off. “What? Say it, or I swear I will kill you right now myself.” “A stranger showed up and saved her,” the man says, finishing his sentence. “What stranger? Do not tell me Angel left out this stranger also?” “No, Highness. She did mention him but she was not aware of his identity at that time. Only that he was an immortal,” the man professes. “So then who is he, or am I to continue this guessing game until I have no more patience left for you at all?” “I am not sure, but I believe it was the Northman, Highness,” the man says, searching her face for some hope of understanding. The woman pauses and she ponders his words extensively. This new information could upset things drastically. She knows of Jon’s strengths and powers. She should know, as she is the one responsible for making him into what he is. The woman stands from her chair and walks over to the man. “Are you certain it was him or are you reaching for straws to save your hide from the mess you have made?” “I am not absolutely sure, Highness, but after I bumped into him the other night with the girl I could feel his power. I could tell immediately that he was one of royal blood. If it is not he, then who?” “If it was Jon, then you would not have stood a chance in a confrontation. He was, is, one of the strongest warriors I’ve ever known. A more deadly adversary one could not meet in a hundred lifetimes. And yes, he is most definitely of royal blood. Mine. He was to lead my armies and now I regret to see that I will have to destroy my most prized creation. After all of these years, I still… never mind. What is done is done. Bring me the child,” she commands. With that, the man exits quickly. He returns moments later with a small male child carrying an electronic game and dressed in blue jeans and a
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t-shirt. The man leads him into the big room and the little boy brushes the bangs of his slightly long straight blonde hair out of his eyes as he walks. The child is a little scared by the size of the animals and his unfamiliar surroundings, but he manages to maintain his manners as he was taught. The woman looks at the child then back at the man. “Does the child remember anything?” she asks. “No, Highness, we blocked his mind immediately so he remembers nothing from the house.” “Good. So this is the witch’s offspring. What is your name, child?” “Chayse,” he replies matter-of-factly. “Well, Chayse, what is that you have in your hand?” she continues. “A new game my daddy bought me.” He holds the toy out so she can see it better. “He gave me this for Halloween since he can’t go with me trick-or-treating.” “Oh really. And what are we dressing up as this year?” she asks with feigned curiosity. “A vampire. My mommy got me fangs and everything. I’d show them to you, too, but she took them from me when I got in trouble at school,” Chayse says, looking down at the ground and scuffing his feet nervously. “Why, Chayse, what did you do?” “I bit Misty on the neck with them. I didn’t mean to make her bleed but the nuns called my mom anyway. She was kinda mad and said I couldn’t have them back until Halloween.” “Well, I think you have made an excellent costume choice there, little man.” “Thank you,” the boy says politely. “What’s your name?” he continues with the innocence of a child. “You may call me Nestasia.” the woman replies. “Are those your dogs? They sure have big teeth.” he says, in amazement at the size of Nestasia’s hellhounds. “The better to eat you with,” Nestasia says in an almost serious tone as one of the dogs licks its mouth. Then she looks at the man standing beside Chayse. “Ok, that’s enough. Take him to his room.” The man tugs at the boys arm and they both turn toward the door. As they walk away, Chayse turns his head back in Nestasia’s direction and waves. “Bye,” he says as they leave the room. Nestasia nods her head coolly and the door closes behind them. She walks around the room, almost pacing, with her dogs following her every move, then the door opens again and another man walks in.
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“Highness,” he says as he kneels. “Yes, what now? Don’t you tell me about some kind of screw-up or I swear I’ll kill someone,” she says as she continues to walk the floor. “No, Highness, we have confirmed that the immortal is the Northman.” Nestasia stops in her tracks and turns toward the man. “You are sure without a doubt?” she asks pointedly. “Yes, Highness,” the man replies. She stands motionless and in deep thought, then she instructs the man to stand. “Go and get me Antonius,” she commands and the man hastily leaves to comply with her wishes. She resumes her pacing and the door opens yet again. This time a muscularly large, very tall man walks into the chamber and, as did the other men previously, kneels before his queen. “You sent for me, Highness?” “Yes, Antonius, I did,” she says, waving him to his feet. The man stands and she walks over to him. “How would you like the chance to settle your old debt with Jon Erik?” she asks, staring into his face and reading the hatred in his eyes at the mention of the name. “I know how you harbor hatred for Jon Erik since he took your spot as commander and later killed your brother and took the prized Laertes Sword. You and your brother were my two best captains. Mark Antony did well when he chose you two to lead our army.” She pauses a moment then continues, “You know the Northman is here?” “Yes, Highness, I have heard,” the man grunts, doing his best to keep his anger inside. “Well, I want you to be there the next time he shows his face. Do you understand?” “Yes, Highness,” the large man replies. “I trust this will not be a problem for you,” she says. “No, Highness. I will kill him this time.” “Good. See that you do. Now get with that idiot and see he that finds me that necklace and kills that girl. And if he fails me, I want you to kill him also.” “Yes, Highness. Gladly,” the man says. Nestasia then gestures for him to leave her and he does so, closing the door behind him. Nestasia walks back over to her dogs and strokes the top of each one’s head, then she snaps her fingers at them and they both stand. She walks over to another door at the opposite side of the room that leads to a small
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bedchamber. She opens the door; inside there is a middle-aged priest kneeling beside a modest sized single bed praying with a bible in his hand. “Thank you for the use of your cathedral, Father,” she says. Then she looks back at her dogs and the two huge animals run across the room and into the bedchamber. “I hope you have had enough time to make your peace with God, because the next time you speak to him it will be in person.” She shuts the doors, with the man praying even more frantically than before, as the two animals start to growl and their eyes start to glow red. Once the door is sealed, the man starts to scream as the dogs tear him apart in a frenzy of feeding.

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Chapter Nine
Jennifer awakens in Jon’s bed with Jon watching over her from a chair close to the bed. She raises herself up in the bed and immediately feels an intense throbbing in her head. “Jesus!” she says as she grabs her head at the temples, pressing on them hard. “I don’t remember drinking that much last night. My head is pounding.” Jon looks over at her. “Jennifer, do know what day this is?” he asks. “Yeah, sure, it’s Sunday,” she replies, now running her hands through her hair and pulling the satin sheet back up, covering her exposed breast. “What’s the last thing you remember?” Jon continues as his mind reflects over the recent events, how he found her at her house near death and the guilt he felt for how he was forced to save her life by sacrificing her soul, and how she suffered through her transformation into the life of the undead. Then he remembers how he brought her back to his loft semiconscious, only to remove her clothes and bathe her and wash the blood from her body and hair, and then afterwards how he then had to dispose of her blood soaked clothes. “You met me at the club and we came back here and had a great time, I might add. I had been drinking at the club some, but man, I didn’t think I had enough to feel like this,” she says, still a little hazy. “Anything else?” Jon questions further. “No, I fell asleep and had a bad dream, and now I’m awake. So what’s with all the questions?” she says, confused at this badgering. “Tell me what you dreamed.” Jon’s tone begins to feel like an interrogation, and Jennifer starts to get a little concerned, thinking that maybe she made a mistake trusting Jon and spending the night.
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“I don’t really remember much. It’s pretty much like a blur. What I do remember scared the hell out me. Someone took my baby and then you showed up. My ex, he was there, dropping off Chayse. We argued some, nothing unusual about that,” Jennifer says sarcastically. “Then Danny said goodbye to Chayse and that’s when things got weird.” Jennifer sits up a little straighter in the bed now holding the sheet with one hand and using her other hand to help expand on her story. “Danny was getting ready to leave and someone drove up in a car. It was dark by then so I couldn’t see who it was. The next thing I know Danny is fighting someone and I turn to Chayse to tell to run to his room and lock the door. But I no sooner get the words out of my mouth when someone is standing in the doorway grabbing at his arm even before Chayse has a chance to move. I started swinging at him but I couldn’t do anything,” she says and swings her arm, illustrating the struggle. “Then out of nowhere you showed up. The rest I can’t remember at all. Everything’s a total blur from that point on. Then I woke up,” she says a little uneasy, but still maintaining a calmness from her belief that what she has just told Jon was only a dream. Jon gets out of the chair and walks over to the bed. Jennifer now slides a little closer to him. Releasing the sheet from her hand, she affectionately wraps her arms around his neck and attempts to give Jon a kiss. Jon pulls back from her lips and gently removes her arms from his neck. Jennifer now pulls the sheet back up to cover herself again and slides back slightly from Jon. “Jon, you’re starting to freak me out a little,” she says with a hesitation in her voice. Jon’s head bows down a little and his voice is chillingly relaxed. “Jennifer, I am about to tell you something, but you need to stay calm and let me finish, alright?” Jennifer looks at him. “Oh shit, you’re married right? And all of this business you had down here was really just a weekend away from the little woman so you could get laid,” she says, with a slight pain in her voice. “No, I am not married and it has nothing to do with my feelings for you or what we have,” Jon says quickly. “I want you to know that I care for you deeply, Jennifer. Much more deeply than I have for anyone in so very long that I can’t remember. I know this probably isn’t the right time now to tell you this but I really need you to know.” Jon turns to look at Jennifer, her expression is a mixture of confusion, fear, and concern at what is transpiring.

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“Jon, I am starting to care for you also. But I must confess that I am not really ready for any long-term commitments right now. I hope you understand.” Jon extends his hands and Jennifer extends one of hers to meet his. Jon takes her hand and gently kisses it. “For what I am about to say I am truly sorry.” Jennifer looks on still confused but also sympathetic. “It’s okay, Jon. Whatever it is you have to say, I’m sure it’s okay.” Jon now looks Jennifer directly in the eyes. “Jennifer,” he pauses, “today is not Sunday; it is Wednesday. You have been asleep for three days.” Jennifer pulls back her hand, completely unsettled now. “What do you mean Wednesday? It can’t be Wednesday,” she says, her voice now exerting her denial at the possibility, but as she looks in Jon’s eyes and searches his face for any sign of insincerity and finding none, she realizes that he is telling her the truth. “What the fuck do you mean, it’s Wednesday? What happened to Sunday, Monday and Tuesday?” Her voice is now trembling and she starts to get very defensive. Jon tries to holds her hand again and she slaps it away. “What the fuck kind of drugs have you given to me?” she yells, now standing in the bed, then jumping to the floor, still holding the sheet to cover her naked body. “I’ve given you no kind of drugs, Jennifer and I would never hurt you intentionally, ever, in any way. I swear, you have to believe me.” “Okay then, now I’m scared, Jon. What is going on here? I can’t have been asleep for three days, my baby comes home today!” She is now backing slowly away from Jon until the wall close to the bed stops her. Jon is still sitting on the bed with an expression in his eyes that reflects he is truly feeling her pain. “No, Chayse is coming home today!” Jennifer is now in tears. The pitch of her voice is high and it is starting to crack under the stress. “That was all just a bad dream.... right?” Jon looks at her without saying a word. The strain of this horrible reality now crashes down on her, causing Jennifer’s knees to start to buckle. She drops to the floor like a stone, sliding against the wall behind her and she screams. “NNOOO!! Oh dear God! CHHAAAYYYSSEE!!!” Jon moves toward her, attempting to comfort her, but Jennifer is now completely hysterical, swinging and kicking at Jon while she is still sitting

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on the floor. Jon stops short and backs away from her. Jennifer’s emotions now turn quickly from pain to fierce motherly anger. “What the fuck happened?” she says, now more in control of herself. “You were attacked. For what purpose I’m not quite sure, but I think it has something to do with this.” Jon holds out his hand. As he extends his fingers, Jennifer’s necklace falls through. It twists and spins and the sun’s light refracts off it, causing it to sparkle like a diamond. “When I got back to your house, your ex was dead and you were near death on your living room floor with your neck ripped open.” The event now flashes in Jennifer’s mind; she grabs at her neck where the fatal wound had been inflicted. “If that was true, then why isn’t there a wound now? Why am I not dead?” she says, still disbelieving Jon’s words. Jon starts toward her again and Jennifer moves away avoiding him. “Because I saved you,” Jon says. Jennifer makes a face of disbelief, “Yeah sure, with what, how? How could you heal such a wound? Are you some kind of miracle performer too? This is fucking crazy! I have no scar, no pain, no nothing! What do you think I am, just some stupid stripper you can get all drugged up, fuck, and then play some twisted sick joke on? Is that what this is to you, a fucking joke? Is this what really gets you off, screwing with peoples’ heads?” “Jennifer, I am not trying to mess with your mind and I wish more than anything this were all untrue but it is not, I swear. Look, Jennifer, I need you to trust me. We don’t have a lot of time,” Jon says, continuing to try to appeal to Jennifer’s sense of reason but the shock of her situation has thrown out all rationality for her and she continues to rant. “Trust you?!?!” she says, screaming. “Are you fucking crazy? I wake up in your bed and it’s three days later and this is your explanation? You stay the fuck away from me!” Jennifer jumps up and tries to run toward the elevator, but Jon moves with Vampire speed, cutting her off before she can reach the door and she runs full speed into him. Taken completely by surprise, Jennifer instinctively goes to hit Jon. Her reflexes are faster than a normal mortal now, increased by her new Vampire blood, but her swing is still much too slow for Jon and he effortlessly catches it inches from his face. She now releases the sheet and tries to hit him with her other hand but Jon catches that one just as easily. “LET ME GO, YOU FREAK!!” she screams hysterically, as she continues to struggle, trying to break free of Jon’s grasp.

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Jon can see that talking is not getting him anywhere so he decides to change strategies and go for the visual effect instead. “Jennifer, STOP!” Jon commands and Jennifer obeys immediately. “Now listen to me closely,” Jon says in a slow even tone attempting to get Jennifer to calm down. “I will not, nor would I ever, hurt you. Do you understand me?” Jon pauses and waits for her to acknowledge his words and Jennifer nods as she starts to respond to Jon’s voice. “Say it,” Jon instructs insistently. Her breathing starts to return to a more normal state, as she continues to become more composed. “I know you wouldn’t hurt me, Jon,” she says, responding to Jon’s request. “Just please tell me what is going on because I am really scared.” Jon releases her and Jennifer backs away from him again, bending down in the process to retrieve the sheet from the floor and cover herself once again. “I know what I have been saying is freaking you out some at best, but you have to trust me.” Jon walks slowly toward her and this time Jennifer stands fast and is trying to control her fear. Jon stops directly in front of her. Jennifer jumps into his arms wrapping her arms around him, clutching him as if her life depended on it. Jon returns the affection, hugging her in return and kissing her on the top of the head. Then he takes one hand and places it gently beneath her chin raising it up so her eyes can meet his. “Jennifer I really wish I knew another way of doing this but you have to know the truth, all of the truth. Please believe me when I say I wish it could have been any other way than this but what’s done is done and I know of no way to return things back to where they were before.” He now touches the side of her face softly with his fingertips then pulls one of her hands around so he can place her necklace in it. Then Jon releases her and this time he backs away. As he does, his eyes start glowing blood red. “Jennifer, you have to trust me,” he says in an even deeper voice than normal. With that, his fingers and nails start to grow. “Don’t be afraid. Just let me explain.” Now his face starts to transform and his teeth become elongated as they start to grow also until they become long, full and sharp. Jon’s body is now completely transformed into its Vampiristic state and Jennifer starts to scream but is too frightened to utter any noise. “Jennifer, this how I saved you,” he says, with Jennifer still in a state of shock. “I am an Immortal, one of the Undead. A Vampire, and now
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Jennifer… so are you.” Jennifer’s knees once again buckle and she drops to the floor passing out from the shocking sight before her and the news that she is of similar condition. Jon quickly moves to pick her up and then places her back in his bed. When Jennifer comes to, a few minutes later, she sits up to find Jon back in human form by her side and holding her hand. She pulls her hand away quickly and Jon slides his hand back to his side. “What happened to my son? Jon… I need to know, is he… dead? Please tell me he is not dead,” she says, half pleading with Jon as if he could dictate her son’s fate with just his words. “I believe who ever it was that attacked you took him,” he says calmly but with high regard for her feelings. “Who, Jon? Who would have taken him and why?” she says, sitting up again in the bed. “As I said before I think it has to do with this necklace of yours and what your grandmother told you about your power.” Jennifer ponders his words and Jon continues. “I have an idea of who took him but I was hoping maybe after the initial shock had passed, you would recall something more that might help lead us to him.” She shakes her head no. “I don’t remember anything at all.” She pauses a second then asks Jon another question almost as if one would ask a doctor if they were terminally ill. “Are you… am I… really a Vampire now, Jon?” Jon bows his head in a gesture or regret again. “Yes, Jennifer, you are, but I had no other choice. It was the only way to save you and allow us to save your son.” Jon raises his head and looks in her eyes. “Please forgive me.” Jennifer now rationalizes the circumstances involved. Considerably calmer now, she reaches out to touch Jon’s face. “I would have surely died if you had not saved me and without your help now, so will my son. There is nothing to forgive. Chayse is my whole world and I would crawl through Hell to protect him.” Jon reaches up and pulls down the hand she has to his face kissing it inside her palm. “I hope you mean that, Jennifer, because, if I am right, we may have to do just that,” he says with no hesitation in his voice. “Why, what do you know, Jon? Who or what are we dealing with?” she says as Jon releases her hand.

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“Remember the guy you had the problem with at that bar on Friday night?” Jennifer nods. “I believe he is the one who attacked you. He has apparently been following you. I wasn’t sure before, but I am now. I smelled him on you at your home. He also put that girl Angel in the club to watch you. He learned your patterns so he could find the right time to get Chayse. But I also think he was after your necklace.” Jennifer is now puzzled at how these two things tie together. “How do my son and this old necklace have anything to do with each other?” Jon looks at her. “Remember the book at the library? The one we found last, the one that talked about the Angels on your necklace and the legends about Lilith?” Jon asks, peaking Jennifer’s attention. “Yeah, sure, so what? What does this have to do with this necklace and more importantly, my son?” she says, her interest and confusion now equally high. “Today is Halloween, the first day of the Season of the Dead. This is the one time of the year that the spirits from the other realms can cross over to this plane of existence.” Jon explains. “Yeah so? What does this mean?” she says, now completely engulfed in Jon’s words. “I believe my Maker is going to try to invoke the spirit of Lilith. They need an innocent male child to complete the ceremony. I also believe that you are a descendent of a line which has helped to keep this type of thing from happening in the past.” Jon pauses for a second to let Jennifer catch up. “This is where the necklace comes into play. I think Chayse’s involvement is more motivated by some sort of revenge against your line and even more so, you.” Jennifer continues to listen quietly. “I think this has all happened once before in the past to some degree and your predecessor foiled the attempt before, thus evoking the wrath of Nestasia on your bloodline and eventually you.” Jennifer looks on, amazed at Jon’s story, but still unsure whether to believe it or not. “So who is this Nestasia bitch then?” she asks, still going along with everything.

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“She is my Maker, just as I am yours. Only she took me to control me and lead her legion. I made you to save you and hopefully to save your son.” Jennifer stops and thinks a second then responds to all of this information. “Well, if you are really a Vampire, why can you go out in the sunlight? I thought that was supposed to kill Vampires,” Jennifer says, thinking she has cornered Jon, while still trying to deny to herself that she has just witnessed his transformation only moments ago. “Most Vampires are of tarnished blood and these lesser creatures are not immune. But one with pure lines conceived me into this life. Years after I was created, I decided to try to learn more about what it was I had become. I made it my quest to become more educated and knowledgeable about this curse that had befallen me. So, I researched in books and followed the old legends. Over the years I learned a lot but it wasn’t until we found that book in the library the other day that I started putting certain parts of this information together.” “And what does this have to do with how you can survive in the sunlight? I mean, this still doesn’t explain anything,” Jennifer says, slightly annoyed. “Just wait, there is more,” Jon replies as he gets up and walks over to the bar, removing a bottled water for Jennifer, then bringing it back to her. “How did you know I was thirsty?” she asks. “We share the same blood now, Jennifer, our minds are joined. Once you let yourself tap into your new powers you will be able to do the same.” Jennifer is a little impressed with this revelation and opens the water bottle, sipping it slowly. “Oh, this is awful,” she says, making a face. “What kind of water is this anyway, sewer water? “No Jennifer, it is plain bottled water. I had to see how far along you were in your transformation. Your taste for human things is starting to disappear. You will see this a lot more as your body changes to its new Vampire state.” Then Jon sits back on the bed and starts to finish his story. “Anyway, I had heard of Lilith and stories of her children, but there is this one story of a Queen that came out of Egypt who had been born of supernatural means. The story tells that in her final hour before death she had made a pact with Isis.” Jennifer looks puzzled now and Jon answers her question before she can speak.

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“Isis is the Egyptian name for Lilith,” he says, and then continues. “And after reading from that book we found, I am starting to believe that my creator was that Queen. If I am correct this would make her like one of Lilith’s daughters, thus making her and her direct line very special and very strong.” “Well, what does this have to do with anything? Jennifer asks as she puts down the bottle. “Well, to answer your first question, since Lilith was the first Vampire and she could walk in the sunlight, so would any one of direct lineage to her. I believe there are only a few direct Clan lines that are bestowed this power. The majority of the Vampires’ were created from impure origins such as beasts, dogs and wolves, which had been created by higher-level Vampires, and used to help them acquire victims and spread their control. The animals could infect their victims without drawing attention to the masters. If one was caught, it was just put down and thought to be rabid or mad.” “These Animal Vampires, their victims and all of their line are weaker by comparison than those of pure blood. This makes them easier to control and less of a potential threat to the Master Vampire and, added to this, these lower level Vampires are all limited to only darkness. However, they do have their own special gift from being of impure origin. They are able to transform back and forth between human and beast since they are made of both. All other things being equal, a Vampire of pure bloodline is stronger and also possesses the gift to be in sunlight, but they do not have this ability to metamorphose into another creature.” Jennifer interrupts Jon, “So what made you so special as to be made by this Nestasia herself?” Jon stops for a second. “I’m not sure; she said something to me once though. She told me that I was the first true warrior she had known since Rome.” Jennifer butts in again. “Egypt, Rome, right. Then how old are you supposed to be anyway? I personally don’t think you look a day over two hundred,” she says very sarcastically. “I’m not sure I am buying this whole thing,” she says. Jon looks at her and in a very convincing voice replies, “More like around twelve hundred. I was born the son of a Viking Chief on the shores of Gaul. In my mortal life, I was a leader of a fierce band of warriors and I led many raids to the shores of Brittany. At least until that last raid, in the year 872 AD.”

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Jennifer again questions Jon’s story, “And that’s another thing. I thought all Vikings were from Sweden or Norway or something like that. Your last name is French.” “Vikings raided Gaul, or more accurately Paris, in 845 AD. My father was one of the leaders of that raid and he stayed and afterwards he took a wife, my mother.” Jon then begins the horrible tale of his rebirth into darkness. Jennifer’s eyes open wide as Jon continues. “My men and I were returning from a raid on a small town as we had done many times before. That last night before we launched to go home we camped on a beach. We drank and celebrated our good fortune by the light of the full moon. Then sometime in the night we were attacked.” Jon’s voice now starts to fill with hatred as he tells Jennifer the story of how Nestasia’s beast-like men had killed and fed on all his men, leaving him alone to watch the horror. Jennifer listens and as she does, she looks into Jon’s eyes and can see his memories as if they were her own. When he gets to the part of when he was offered up to his Maker like a sacrifice, Jennifer feels the puncture wounds in his chest from Nestasia’s bite and feels his soul slip away as Nestasia drinks in his life force. When Jon stops talking, Jennifer jumps like she is coming out of a trance and for the first time really understands that this is all true. “So how do you know she was from Egypt?” Jennifer asks. “Did she tell you like you are telling me?” “No,” Jon replies. “I only recently started putting all of this together from the book in the library.” Jennifer now also starts putting a few things together for herself and says, “You went back for the book that night. And it was you who messed up those kids, wasn’t it?” she says in a very accusing voice. “Yes,” Jon retorts, with no remorse in his voice for act. “Those stupid bastards got off much easier than they deserved as far as I’m concerned.” Jennifer sees the conviction in his face and hears it in his voice. She decides this is something better left alone. “So, what did you find in this book?” she asks, trying to change the subject. “A lot more history behind your necklace, Lilith and Nestasia,” Jon says. “And I believe it holds the answers we need to get your son back.” “How can this book help us find my son?” Jennifer asks, doubting Jon’s judgment.

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“It contains references to an old spell for the invocation of Lilith. It describes in detail the materials, preparations and the time line needed for performing the spell,” Jon replies. “So what is this time line? How long do we have to find Chayse?” Jennifer asks. Jon stands and starts to walk over toward his desk. “We have until Friday night. November second at Midnight. That is the end of the Season of the Dead and the peak of the full moon. At that exact moment of time the offering must be sacrificed for the spirit of Lilith to be invoked into Nestasia.” Jennifer gets up out of bed and starts to follow Jon. “Please don’t refer to Chayse in such an ambiguous manner. That’s my son you are talking about, not an animal and don’t you forget that!” she expounds as she heads toward Jon and his desk. “I apologize; I never meant to seem insensitive. I was only quoting the book,” he says, seeing that the unintended coldness of his remark has upset Jennifer even further. Jennifer now stands in front of Jon’s desk still wrapped in the sheet. “By the way, where are my clothes?” Jon points to the trashcan against the wall, “They were soaked with your blood and couldn’t be salvaged. I saved them for you just in case you didn’t believe me. I know this is a lot of information to take in at one time.” Jennifer walks over to the chair and sits down. “Well, just what the hell am I supposed to use for clothes, then?” Jon presses a button on the remote on his desk and a partition opens in the wall. Behind it is a closet full of Jon’s clothes at one end and on the other end is a rack full of women’s clothes. “I called one of my board members in New York and he had his personal secretary arrange for a personal shopper down here to pick you out some things. I knew we wouldn’t be able to go back to your house and get any of your clothes. I told her a little about you, your age and what I thought was your size; also a few stores where you shopped so she could get an idea for the type of clothing you might feel comfortable with. I also had her pick you up plenty of pairs of shoes and undergarments. She has a daughter about your age and size who helped coordinated everything.” Jennifer walks over to the closet, completely amazed. “Tell your secretary and her daughter they did a great job,” she says as she opens the drawer to a dresser that holds an ample supply of bras, panties and socks. There on the racks are jeans, shirts, t-shirts, tank tops, short skirts and dresses.
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“Wow! You must have cleaned out Victoria’s Secret and Hot Topics!” she exclaims, getting out some underwear and socks. Then she grabs a pair of black jeans and a T-shirt off the rack. She drops the sheet and proceeds to get dressed, never minding Jon is standing there watching. “I’ll be sure to convey your compliments,” Jon says. Once she is dressed, Jon presses another button and the door to his vault opens. Jennifer is dumbfounded at the sight she sees inside; a room filled with antiques like a museum, with a huge coffin in its center. She walks over as Jon walks from behind his desk. “Don’t tell me you, I, ah, we don’t have to sleep in that, do we?” Jon almost laughs, “No, I don’t need that anymore, but if you will notice, I don’t have any windows up here either. Remember that even though sunlight will not kill you, it does make you less strong and more vulnerable than you are at night.” They walk inside and Jennifer looks inside the coffin as Jon retrieves the book he had taken from the library. “What is that?” she asks, pointing at the large ornately decorated Sword and also the one that is broken into two pieces, laid end to end, with its two halves touching. “The broken one is my sword given to me by my father. It was broken on the night of my death. The other is the Sword of Laertes. It is one of the few weapons that can kill a Master Vampire, especially one of pure blood.” Jennifer reaches in and lifts the heavy blade easily with one hand, a feat that would have been impossible for her a few days before. She feels the weight of the blade in her hand and slowly wields it in a manner that almost appears natural. “So why is this Sword so special?” she asks as she points it at Jon. “Because when attacked with regular weapons, unless a Vampire is beheaded, he, or she, as the case may be, will heal themselves and even regenerate a limb if necessary. With this Sword, they will not heal as completely. If a limb were to be severed with a blow from the Sword of Laertes, such as if an arm were cut off above the elbow, any part still attached may stop bleeding and heal but it will never regenerate. Just as any other sword would be to a mortal, to an immortal, a stabbing blow or cut can prove fatal from that blade.” Jennifer places it back in its original resting-place then turns to Jon. “Will it kill one as old as Nestasia or Lilith?” she asks. “Nestasia, yes, as for Lilith I cannot be sure,” he replies. “Hopefully we won’t have to try it on Lilith. We’ll get your son back before the

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invocation can be completed,” he says trying not to sound negative and thwart Jennifer’s hopes of getting back her son in time. As they walk out of the vault, she asks about the large refrigerator, which looks oddly out of place in comparison to everything else in the room. “What’s that for? Don’t tell me, you keep dead bodies in there, right?” she asks sarcastically. “No, not exactly, that holds my supply of blood.” “Jon,” Jennifer starts, as they approach his desk. “Do you, we, really have to drink blood, also?” Jon presses the remote closing the massive door sealing the room behind them. “Yes,” he says matter-of-factly. “Do you ever kill people for their blood?” Jennifer asks, afraid of what she knows already to be true. “Sometimes, but not so much for food anymore. I have for the most part eliminated that as a necessity for myself, anyway. I have never had a problem with the act of killing, and as a mortal, I loved to hunt. But as a Vampire, a being that in most ways is superior to mortals, I always felt that it was the one part of the Vampires that made the species a lesser form of existence than that of mortals. It made me more like one of the lesser beasts of the earth rather than the superior creature I had once been as a mortal.” “So if I kill now it is for a reason, and not merely as a beast hunting indiscriminately for food. However, sometimes the two do conveniently find their way into the same purpose. When that happens, I must admit, it can be most rewarding and enjoyable.” Jennifer looks almost appalled at this statement. “How could you possibly do or even say such things?” Jon quickly turns to her. “At one time there was no other way that I knew to survive, Jennifer,” he says in a manner to try to vindicate his last few statements. “But even more so it was intoxicating, addicting, if you were not careful. This type of behavior, though, is how mortals became aware of my, our kind to begin with. The lust for the pleasure of the kill is a very powerful aphrodisiac and it can be very hard to control, especially for the weaker impure Vampires whose wills are generally weaker and more animalistic in nature.” Jon continues to explain, trying not to be defensive. “You do not want to sit in judgment of me until you yourself have known the thrill of the hunt or pleasure of a fresh kill. When, and if, you do learn of these things, then you will understand, and I promise you will never forget it.”
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“I’m sorry, Jon, I did not mean to accuse you like that. I guess the sound of this all just makes me think of my son and what they did to me and I just get mad,” she says apologetically. “If you do not have to kill now, then how do you survive?” Jon walks around behind his bar and opens his small refrigerator. From inside he pulls out a glass bottle of red liquid that appears to have come from some hospital or blood bank. “By these,” he says, as he places the bottle on the counter. “Is that what I think it is?” Jennifer asks. “Yes,” John replies. “A long time ago I started to acquire these from medical facilities periodically. I considered it a much more humane method than the alternative, don’t you?” Jennifer can almost smell the contents inside, walks over, and picks it up as if one would a glass bottle of juice. “Why do I feel this craving?” she asks, inspecting the contents. “You are a new Vampire and you have not eaten in almost four days now. Were you not hungry when you woke up?” Jon asks. “Sure I was, but when I thought about eating food my stomach started to turn like it did when I was pregnant with Chayse, but I just assumed it was because I had too much to drink from last night.” Jon looks at her. “You mean Saturday night, as in four days ago.” Jennifer places the jar back on the counter “Yeah, well I didn’t know that at the time. Am I ever going to be able to eat real food again?” she asks, somewhat concerned. “You will need to learn to acquire a tolerance for it. It is a good thing to be able to do in order to maintain appearances of normalcy in certain situations.” Jennifer now realizes that what he is saying refers in part to their few outings involving food. “Like you do, right?” Jon nods. “It has helped me on numerous occasions in the past.” Jennifer continues to stare at the glass jar of blood. “Well, I guess I won’t have to worry about watching my weight anymore,” she sarcastically. “Or gray hair, or sickness, or being tired, or dying as far as that goes, at least from any normal point of perspective, anyway,” Jon adds to her statement. “So what do we do now?” Jennifer questions apprehensively.

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“Well, first off we need to see if that girl Angel is working the club tonight,” Jon replies. “Yeah, sure, I could go to work and …” Jon cuts her off. “Jennifer you can’t go back to work or go anywhere right now, for that matter. You can’t talk to anyone you know or show yourself in any of your usual places,” he says. “Why the hell not?” she expounds angrily, not liking Jon telling her what to do. “My son’s out there somewhere being held by these fucking freaks of Hell and that Bitch had something to do with it!” Jon tries to explain. “Jennifer, as far as anyone knows right now, you and your son are missing, with you presumed most likely to be dead.” Jon continues describing the severity of her situation. “The police found your ex-husband brutally murdered in your front yard and your blood soaked all in the carpet of your living room. If you show up somewhere, anywhere, acting like nothing happened; don’t you think that would set off a few alarms around here? At the very least, the police would hold you for questioning and ask you about a lot of things that you really couldn’t give any answers for, like how you’re alive without a scratch on you and where your son is.” “Then if you did really answer them, well, let’s see. If you didn’t end up in a padded room, you would most likely end up being charged with all of the above. And since this state doesn’t have the death penalty, you would probably get life in prison. For an immortal, trust me, that could be a very long time. Not to mention the fact that while all of this shit is going on, WE, and I do mean you and I, because it will take us both at best to pull this off, would miss the opportunity to save your son. And he only has, let’s see, as of midnight tonight, forty-eight hours before he is Nestasia’s sacrifice to Lilith.” Jennifer now stops to think of the implications of Jon’s remarks and realizes how foolhardy her previous statements are. “Well what am I supposed to do? Sit on my ass and wait?” she says, now starting to lose control of her emotions a little. Jon walks over and puts his arms around her and she responds in kind, squeezing him hard. “Oh Jon, if anything happens to my baby…” Jennifer says and starts to tear up. Jon kisses her on top of her head and gently brushes her hair from her face with his hand so he can see her eyes.

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“Jennifer, I swear to you I will stop at nothing to get your son back for you.” He kisses her head again, and his eyes start to glow red. Then, as he continues to speak, his voice changes, getting even deeper than normal and more guttural and evil sounding with every word, “We will get Chayse back and I promise that every godless son-of-that-bitch creature involved in this will pray for Satan’s mercy before I am through with them.”

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Chapter Ten
Jon walks into the foyer outside the club as he has done all weekend. The girl working the door is the same girl who was working the door Saturday, and she recognizes Jon immediately. “Hey, back again, huh?” she says politely, as he pulls out some money to pay the door cover charge and hands her a twenty-dollar bill. “Aren’t you the guy who was hanging out with Princess all weekend?” the girl asks as she makes change and gives him back a ten. Jon takes the bill and looks directly at her, making eye contact, and he replies, “No, I don’t believe I have ever been here before and I don’t know anyone that works here named Princess.” In an instant, the girl’s mind is clouded; she forgets having ever seen Jon before. “First time here sir?” she now asks. “Yes,” Jon replies. “Well, tonight should be a good night; we have a new feature dancer in for Halloween named Angel. She puts on a really good vampire theme show. I think you’ll like her. You look like you would like that kind, all Gothic and mysterious.” Jon wraps the ten around the rest of his money. “Really, I’ll have to check her out, thank you,” he retorts, amused at the irony of the girl’s presumptions. “Enjoy the show,” the girl says as Jon enters the club through the double doors. Jon walks in inspecting the crowd and more aptly the wait staff, trying to see if he can spot anyone else who might be a threat in putting him with Jennifer all weekend. Fortunately, Jon thinks to himself, Jennifer almost never let anyone know her real name. So even though the news has been constantly talking about the incident at her house, most of the employees
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here will never realize that the Jennifer on the TV and her alter ego Princess are one and the same. Jon walks back to the VIP area and up the steps as the girl lets him through. He finds a chair in the same area as he has been in all weekend and sits down and the waitress comes over. Jon orders a glass of wine and asks when the feature dancer Angel is going on stage next. “I believe she is up after this set,” the waitress replies, and then hurries off to get Jon’s drink. The next few songs complete and the music in the club changes into a more ceremonious coming attractions sort of music, and the DJ starts announcing Angel’s name and contest titles she has won to promote her entrance. The DJ finishes his promotion and smoke starts to come up from the edge of the stage, completely engulfing it in a white fog. A song starts to play. Slowly the music builds from very soft to a more hard rock beat and, just as the tempo of the music changes, Angel bursts onto the stage, fangs bared, through the thick cloud of smoke. A black cape covers her body; underneath, she is wearing a very skimpy sling shot bottom with nothing covering her top. She has blood dripping from her fangs, running down the front of her chest and the front crowd starts to go wild, whistling and screaming as she swings around the pole. Jon is watching her dance when the waitress returns with his wine. “Here you are, sir,” she says as she places a napkin on the table in front of Jon. Then she sets his drink on top of the napkin. “Would you like to run a tab, sir?” she asks and Jon nods negatively, half watching the stage. Jon reaches in his pocket and pulls out the wad of money he has brought with him, handing her a ten in the process. “Keep the change,” he instructs her and before she can leave, he gets her attention once again. “Excuse me,” he says. “Yes, sir?” the waitress says, pivoting on one foot and turning around quickly. “Could you do one more thing for me?” he asks. The waitress is giving him her undivided attention. "That girl, Angel, would you get her to come up by me when she finishes her set so I could meet her?” The waitress looks toward the stage. “I’m sorry, sir, but Angel doesn’t do table dances or anything.” Jon pulls out a second stash of money. This stash is folded neatly, held together by an ornately engraved silver money-clip, containing only one
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hundred-dollar bills. He counts out ten of them and holds them up for the waitress to see. “Tell her I have a thousand dollars here and all I want to do is meet her and talk to her.” He pulls out one more bill from the clip and lays it on the waitress’s tray. “And that is for you for delivering my message. If you convince her to come, I’ll give you another one.” Then he puts the original stack of bills back in the clip. “Yes sir, no problem. I’ll be right back.” Then she turns quickly again and heads toward the back area and the dancers’ dressing room. The waitress enters the dancers’ dressing area and bumps into her roommate, who is a dancer at the club. “Shannon! When Angel gets off stage tell her to find me,” the girl says in a fervor. “Why? What’s up?” Shannon inquires over the unusual request. “You’ll never believe what just happened. A guy in the VIP area just gave me a hundred dollars just to come ask Angel to come sit with him after her set. And he’s going to give me another hundred if she does,” she continues ecstatically. “Christ, I’m not doing that well on the floor tonight dancing,” the other girl says. “Yeah and get this, he’s going to pay her a grand just for sitting and talking to him,” the waitress bellows, almost out of breath from her excitement. “Okay that’s it, I gotta see this guy.” Both girls exit the dressing room. “So what is he, some old pervert who’s fat and half bald?” Shannon asks as they peek around the corner of the VIP bar. The waitress points over to the table where Jon is sitting and says, “Nope, there he is right there.” Shannon’s eyes follow her friend’s finger across the room and then she sees Jon. “Motherfucker!” she says in a disgusted voice. “He’s paying a thousand dollars just to talk AND he’s good looking. Damn! I’d fuck him for that; hell, with the way he looks I’d fuck him for free. But for a grand I’d do anything he wanted and then some.” Both girls head back to the dressing room. “Now you see why you have to give Angel my message. That’s two hundred for us for rent, which by the way is due this week and we can’t be late two months in a row.” Shannon shakes her head in an agitated manner.

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“Yeah, yeah, I got you covered. Christ, I should have never quit waitressing.” Angel finishes her set and as she walks off stage toward the dressing room Shannon catches up to her. “Angel,” she says and Angel spins around at the sound of her name. “Yes,” Angel says. “You know my roommate Cassie right? The girl who works the VIP area?” Shannon proceeds. “I think so,” Angel replies. “Well she has a guy up there that wants to meet you, bbbaaaddd,” Shannon says while rubbing her thumb and index finger together in a gesturing motion indicating money. “I don’t do table dances, I already told the management that,” Angel snips. “No, you don’t understand, he just wants to meet you and he’s willing to pay a grand for the privilege,” Shannon says insistently. “OH, well, since you put it that way, I guess I could meet the old guy,” Angel says quickly, changing from her primadonna attitude to one that is a bit greedier. Angel changes and heads up to the VIP area to find the waitress Cassie. “Where is this old man that wants to meet me?” she asks. Cassie looks at Angel and shakes her head. “Boy, are you in for a surprise.” Cassie walks Angel over to Jon’s table. Jon has his back turned to the bar watching the stage but even more intently he is examining the crowd, carefully watching for any signs of another immortal. Cassie speaks to the back of Jon’s head trying to get Jon’s attention. “Excuse me, sir,” she says. “I have someone here you wanted to meet.” Jon’s long hair hides his face until he spins around in his chair to see Angel and the waitress he had spoken to earlier. Angel is taken off guard as she recognizes Jon for what he is and even more so for whom he is, the one with Princess only a few nights before. Jon reaches in his pocket and pulls out the hundred-dollar bill he promised Cassie earlier and places it on her tray. “Thank you,” he says. “No…, thank you!” she retorts. “Do you need anything else?” she asks and Jon looks toward Angel in a way to suggest she could order a drink if she desired.
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“I’d like a shot of Grey Goose chilled, with a soda back please,” she says and Jon holds up his glass indicating he would like another glass of wine. “Ok, I’ll be back in a minute,” Cassie says, then turns and heads toward the bar. Jon stands and politely gestures toward a chair. “Please sit down,” he says and Angel reluctantly sits. “The waitress said you offered a thousand dollars to meet me,” she says, leaning back in the chair. “She did?” he replies. “Yes, well, she told you correctly.” Jon pulls the clip of money again from his pocket and counts out ten one hundred-dollar bills once more. “Here. As promised.” Then he hands them to Angel. “Why all the money? I assume Cassie told you I don’t do table dances?” Angel questions Jon, still uneasy about her situation but never letting on she knows Jon is a Vampire. “Yes, she did,” Jon replies. “But I was hoping maybe you would be available to help me with something,” he continues. Jon knows that she probably knows what he is but he is still playing along, acting as if he were a regular type of guy just looking for a good time. “I have a friend who is getting married this weekend and I am responsible for throwing him a bachelor party. Would you be available for hire for such an event?” he asks. The waitress returns with their drinks before Angel has a chance to reply. “Here you are, sir,” she says placing the drinks on the table between Jon and Angel. Jon starts to reach in his pocket to pay her and she holds out her hand indicating he does not need to do so. “I have this round, sir,” she says. Jon thanks her and she returns to making her rounds to the other customers. Angel picks up her shot and says, “I don’t know. I’m pretty expensive for things like that.” Then she turns the shot up and quickly downs the frigid liquid inside. “I believe I can cover your cost,” Jon says. “Look mister…”Angel waves her hand in a rolling motion trying to get Jon to fill in the blank and tell her his name. “Jon Erik,” he says and she continues. “Look Jon. I don’t know you and this is kind of weird, so do you mind telling me what you really want with me? I mean, you did pay a grand to get me here.”
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Jon drops the charade with that comment and gets on with his real purpose. “I believe you have some information that could help me. And I would be willing to pay well for this help.” Angel looks at the money in her hands and tucks it into a garter belt. “Look buddy, I’m not the Internet and I don’t need the trouble so I’m just going to get off this bus here, okay?” She braces herself on the arms of the oversized chair and starts to stand. Jon quickly catches one of her hands and pins it to the armrest of her chair. “Sit,” Jon commands and for a split second, his eyes glow red. “Now, I know you know what I am and I know this because you have the smell of another immortal on you. So why don’t you stay seated, calm down, and I’ll get to the point of this encounter.” Angel reluctantly sits back into the chair. “First off, let me assure you that if you can provide me with any information I will reward you and conversely if I find you can provide me with information and you don’t I will make you wish you were never born.” Angel adjusts her position in the chair. “What is it you want to know?” she asks, now even more concerned. “Do you remember a girl in here this weekend who dances by the name of Princess?” Jon inquires. “Yeah, maybe, I don’t usually get to know a lot of girls, so what’s your point?” Angel answers evasively. “Well, I am interested in some information about what happened to her and her son and why. And I thought maybe you would have an idea or possibly know someone who does.” Angel’s eyes can no longer conceal her concern. She knows her master would kill her if he thought she had betrayed him so she eludes, saying she might know something, hoping Jon will give her information in the process as to why he is so interested. “So just what makes you think that I or anyone I know would have any interest in this kid or some dead girl?” Her voice now softens a little as she leans in closer and Jon leans in to hear her. Jon picks up quickly on Angel’s words. “Who said that she is dead?” Jon says and Angel quickly replies to cover her remark. “The news. That’s all they have talked about since Sunday. So, are you going to answer my question?” Angel retorts, now wondering if Jon knows more about Princess’s whereabouts than he is letting on also.

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Jon reclines back in his chair picking up his wine in the process. He sips from the glass and stares off toward the stage aloofly. “If you are going to play dumb then I guess we have nothing further to discuss. I thought maybe you could help me but I guess I was wrong, I am sure that you have better sense than to lie to me when you know what I am capable of.” Jon continues to sip his wine and act as if he has no further interest in her. “Wait,” Angel says, trying to steer him back into trusting her. “What if I do know something? Would you be interested enough to pay ten times the amount that you just gave me?” Jon now returns his attentions to her. “Yes, if you really do know something I would gladly pay that amount, but as I said before, do not lie to me.” Angel picks up a napkin and scribbles a phone number on it. She hands it to Jon then stands up to leave. “This is my cell phone number. Call me at midnight and I will tell you where and when to meet me. Don’t be late and come alone with the money.” Then she turns and walks away. Jon looks at the napkin as the waitress returns. “Did everything go alright for you?” she asks. Having seen Angel give Jon a number, she assumes a different scenario to his and Angel’s conversation. Jon folds the napkin neatly and tucks it into his front pants pocket. “Yes, everything went well. Thank you for your assistance,” he says, then he stands. “Great, well, you have a nice night, sir. And be careful, the freaks always come out on Halloween.” Jon nods. “Thank you. I’ll remember that.” Then he heads toward the front of the club and exits the building. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Angel is in the back packing up and talking to someone on her cell phone. “I really think he knows more about this than he is letting on,” she says into the small flip phone.

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“He’s calling me at midnight, so I need you to get Antonius and a couple of your big buddies and meet me at the old cemetery on Canal at 12:30 sharp.” The voice on the other end talks back and Angels replies to it. “Yes, he is the same one, but he is only one and he knows something more than he is saying about the girl. Besides, that’s why you are bringing help. Now you make sure that you don’t fuck this up and be late or I swear we are all fucked here. Do you understand me?” The voice acknowledges her orders and Angel is satisfied she has everything under control. “Good then. I’ll call you shortly to check on things. Now get moving, we don’t have much time.” She hangs up the phone and continues to clean out her locker and pack her bag. A man walks in the dressing room. Seeing her activities, he starts to question her. “Where do you think you are going?” he says, a little angry. Angel looks up and sees it is the night manager of the club. “I have to leave. Family emergency,” she says. “What about your last set?” he asks. “Get Shannon to do it. She has dark hair. Give her my money for the set and tell her I said thanks for everything. She’ll understand.” Angel zips up her bag then stands to walk out. “But...” the manger starts to speak but Angel walks by not stopping long enough to let him finish his sentence. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Back at Jon’s loft during this whole time, Jennifer has been pacing the floors partly from anticipation of Jon’s return and news of what he has found out but also partly because she hasn’t fed yet. She has been putting it off, thinking still that maybe this is all a bad dream and she can ignore this feeling that is growing in her. But the thirst for a newborn Vampire can be strong and Jennifer’s appetite for blood is starting to grow. She walks around the third floor pacing. Her body temperature is starting to rise when she remembers that Jon has a mixture of blood and wine in his refrigerator behind the bar. She quickly walks over to it and pulls out a bottle. Pulling the cork, she turns it up, never bothering to get a glass. She drinks insatiably until the bottle has been reduced by a third of its contents.

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She removes the bottle from her lips and notices a remote on the bar. It is the one Jon used earlier to open the vault behind the wall. Jennifer, filled with curiosity, picks it up. Still holding the bottle in her hand she takes another drink from it then places it on the bar’s counter top. She looks at the remote’s buttons for a moment then starts to press a few. With the first one, the TV comes on to the 10:00 o’clock news. The next one turns on the stereo. She presses another one and the wall starts to open as it had done for Jon earlier. Jennifer re-presses the second button, turning off the stereo, but before she can turn off the television, a reporter comes on. He is talking about a missing child, an eight-year-old boy and his mother who have been missing since Sunday. Jennifer stops moving, her attention glued to the words of the reporter still never quite registering that it is her house they are talking about. Then the TV flashes a couple of pictures of the boy recovered from the child’s home. Jennifer drops the remote and runs toward the TV. “Chayse, Oh God, my baby.” She reaches up and touches the screen with both hands as if she could touch him or put her arms around him. Then the pictures disappear as the reporter moves on to the next story. Jennifer’s eyes start tear up again but then just as quickly fill with anger and start to glow red. “You fucking sons-of-bitches, if you hurt my baby, I swear, not even God will keep me from killing every fucking one of you for this!” She removes her hands from the TV screen then steps back from it slowly, almost in a dazed state. She turns to see the open vault having forgotten it was open for a second and she walks in heading straight for Jon’s casket and the weapons inside. Once inside, she throws open the lid, revealing the two swords. She reaches in and grabs the unbroken Sword and as she does her mind flashes. Her knees buckle and she drops to the floor still clutching the Sword in her hands. Her mind is racing now with images of a place she has never seen in a time many years prior to this one. She sees a child, one that looks like Chayse playing and frolicking in a field close to a small village. He is very near to a seaside castle sitting high and foreboding, all alone next to a cliff as the oceans waters crash relentlessly against the rocks beneath it. Jennifer sees another face, a woman, and she is off mid-wiving to young girl in the village who is about to give birth. As this woman brings the newborn baby into the world, she holds above its head an amulet with symbols on it then she says a blessing over the baby. Jennifer’s mind flashes again and the
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pictures are continuing to come so fast she can barely process what she is seeing. Then Jennifer sees men on horses riding through the dead of night to a house with this woman returning from the childbirth to find her boy gone and her husband dead. Jennifer drops the Sword and this breaks the grasp of whatever has instilled these visions into her head. She is in a sitting position and starts to back away from the blade, which now lies at her feet. She slides along the floor until she bumps into a large chest just a few feet from the coffin. She stares at the blade, transfixed on the Angels and their wings, which make up the hilt part of the handle. As she stares, her eyes are locked on the Angels. It is as if they were alive with one of the face’s eyes opening on the blade. Jennifer jumps up quickly and runs out of the vault, crashing straight into Jon who has only just returned. “Jesus Christ!” she says frantically. “Where the hell did you get that thing?” She points to the Sword that is still lying on the floor beside the coffin. Jon takes his hands and gently helps Jennifer walk over to a chair to sit and catch her breath. “Why, what happened?” Jon asks, already guessing the answer somewhat. “I’m not sure,” Jennifer says, her breathing now starting to calm. “I was playing with the remote and I ended up opening the door to the vault. I saw something on the news about Chayse and I got upset. Then it was as if I was being drawn into the vault. The next thing I know I was picking up that winged Sword and having the weirdest visions.” Jon sits in the chair across from her and listens as she explains. “What in the hell is going on with me, Jon? Am I losing my mind or what?” Jon reaches over and touches her hand gently. “No, Jennifer. You are not losing your mind. I think you are just getting in touch with the powers your grandmother told you about. All of this is starting to make more sense now.” Jon releases her hand and stands up from his chair. “What do you mean this makes more sense? Nothing about any of this is making any damn sense to me. First I lose my son to some bloodsucking freaks,” she looks at Jon quickly. “No offense intended,” she says and Jon shakes his head. “None taken,” he says as she continues to rant. “Then my ex is killed, and even though I wanted to kill him myself most of the time I really didn’t want Chayse to lose his father. Then after all that, I wake up three days later to find that not only have I been hanging out
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with a twelve hundred year old Vampire all weekend, but I myself have become one. SO PLEASE, explain to me how any of this is making sense to you because I am completely lost to your logic.” Jon sits back down and begins to try to explain why he has said what he did. “Alright, as I said before, I think that somehow you and your family line have been intertwined with this kind of thing for a long time. Let me tell you why I think this. First off there is the necklace. That necklace is mentioned in that book we found in the library as a powerful amulet against evil, more specifically I believe Lilith and any follower of hers trying to harm children. Secondly, there are the stories that your grandmother told you.” Jennifer jumps in interrupting Jon. “But she was just an old woman telling a little girl stories to make her feel special,” she says. Jon shakes his head negatively and continues, “I don’t think so. I believe she was an old witch herself who knew the history of the necklace and its powers. Now let’s say I’m right and what happened the other day finally awakened you to these powers she talked about. Now that you are a Vampire, you would be even more sensitive to the elements and spirits from past lives. This would also explain why you are continually drawn to the Sword of Laertes. I took that from an older Vampire years ago, who told me of a story about a family of mortals who had used it to kill Vampires.” “Anyway, the story was that the first mortal to do this was a woman. She used the Sword and amulet to save her son and thus unwittingly stopped a very powerful Master Vampire from performing some sort of religious ceremony. I believe this is the same thing that was described in the book, like some sort of incantation for hell on earth. Anyway, the woman was killed, but her son was saved, and survived to learn the way of the Sword and this amulet. He had a family and he passed this knowledge down through his line, of which I believe you are descended. Jennifer sits back pondering all of this information then speaks up. “Well, where did she, this woman, get this Sword to begin with? Did she just magically create it or what?” Jon gets up again and walks into the vault, which is still open and picks up the Sword, bringing it back into the room. “No, legend has this as the Sword, it was referred to by Homer, that was used to hold back the dead but at some point it disappeared. This woman’s husband’s great grandfather was a soldier in the first Crusade. He

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found the blade and used it in battle believing it would protect him because of the Angels, and then he brought it back home.” “The men in this family passed it down to each generation, never realizing it for what it was, but they kept it because of the Angels on its hilt.” Jon holds up the Sword. “The woman, your great, great, great, whatever grandmother was also a local midwife and herbalist like most of the women in her family before her. These people were respected and generally called wise women; they were knowledgeable of things in nature and understood the seasons and equinoxes. Another name for them today is more familiar - witch. Anyway, with her son taken and husband killed this was the only weapon she had. She still did not know its true power over the undead, but she did know of the protection of her necklace. It was what saved her son and is just the same as the one you now possess.” “To make a long story short, when the son grew up, he did realize what this Sword was because he had seen its use as a child, being wielded by his mother, but he also knew of the necklace and he wore it until he passed both to his oldest children. The women in the family got the necklace to protect them and their children, the men got the Sword. This man and his family were infamous among the undead for years as hunters until the Vampire I knew took this from the male he killed.” “So why did you kill this Vampire?” Jennifer asks. Jon’s facial expression changes and he turns around. “Because the son-of-a-bitch killed someone I was once close to and I have known only a very precious few of those over the years.” Jennifer realizes she has touched on a soft spot and quickly brings Jon back into their present conversation. “This would explain my vision then when I touched the blade. I am seeing the past.” Jon turns back around to face her. “Yes, I believe that this is why you see what you do and also why the Sword looked so natural in your hands earlier. You and it have a shared history from its past.” Jennifer stares at the blade. She slowly stands, walking back toward the vault, bending down and extending her arm, as she gets closer to the Sword. But, just before she touches it, she stops short, still a little afraid. “I don’t know what all this means but do you think it will help us get Chayse back?” Jon lays the blade across the arms of a chair.

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“Yes, I believe you have the gift of sight that will let you see through realities, past and future. I believe this will help us find your son.” “Speaking of which, what did you find out at the club? Was that Angel bitch there? Did you see her?” she asks angrily. “Yes,” Jon replies. “I am to call her at midnight for a location where we can meet.” Jennifer looks at the clock on the wall and sees that it is eleven o’clock. “I am going with you,” she says insistently. Jon knows that it is pointless to try to persuade her otherwise and concedes to her demand. “Just do as I say, though. If I am right, she will probably have a few friends of her own there to try and find out more about what I know and where you are.”

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Chapter Eleven
Jon picks up his phone and dials the number from the napkin that Angel had given him. The phone rings and a woman’s voice answers on the other end. “Hello,” the voice says. “Angel?” Jon questions. “Yes, Jon?” Angel replies. “Yes, where do you want to meet?” he asks. Angel hesitates for a second then answers. “Do you know the old cemetery on Canal?” Jon replies that he does. “Meet me there at 12:30 sharp by Marie Leveaux’s grave. Don’t be late. At 12:31 I’m gone. Also, if I see you have company I’m gone and you’ll never see me again or get the info you want.” Jon acknowledges her conditions. “Oh yeah, I don’t need to remind you to bring the cash, do I?” she says intensely. “No. I’ll be there, alone and with the money,” he retorts. The phone line goes dead and Jon hangs up. Jennifer has been quietly sitting, hanging on every word, surprised that she could hear both sides of the conversation. “So, what do we do now?” she asks, looking at Jon. “Well, WE are going to get some cash from my vault and then I am going to go meet her.” Jennifer gets defensive now. “What about me? What do I do? And don’t even think you’re going to try to change your mind on me or talk me out of this. I AM going,” she says insistently.

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Jon knows it is a moot point to try to reason with her so he thinks for a second. “Alright, but here is what we are going to do. I am going to take my bike and you can drive the Viper. I’m sure she is not coming alone, so you HAVE to stay in the car.” Jennifer looks into Jon’s face and can see that he is reluctant to let her be there at all. “Okay, okay,” she says. “And keep your phone on, I will call when I have what we need,” Jon says. Jon walks back into the vault and gets the required amount of cash, then exits it, closing the vault’s door behind him. Jennifer looks at him and Jon can see she needs some reassuring. “Chayse is alright, Jennifer. They won’t harm him before midnight on the Day of Souls. That gives us two days exactly from now. I will get him back before then, trust me, okay?” Jennifer’s expression shows that she is still obviously concerned but a slight smile crosses her face. “I trust you, Jon. And if I forget to tell you later, thanks.” Jon touches the side of her face, gently acknowledging her statement and his genuine concern for her feelings. Then they both turn and head for the elevator. As they step inside Jon closes the door and turns to her. “I assume you heard where we are going, right?” he says, more stating the fact than posing a question. “Yes, I did. How is that? I mean, I could hear every word as clear as if I were on the phone with you.” Jon presses the button for the elevator to descend and it begins to move. “Because you are a Vampire now,” he says calmly, as if this is everyday conversation. “Wow, what else will I be able to do?” she asks as the elevator stops and Jon opens the door. “You have to be especially careful right now, Jennifer. All of your senses have been heightened, physical and even emotional. You will feel, hear, see and do everything more intensely than you ever have before.” Jennifer listens to Jon but doesn’t respond. “Just be aware of these facts. They can help you if you pay attention to your instincts but they can also consume you if you’re not careful,” Jon says ominously.

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“It’s really ironic, but I feel more alive than I ever have. I guess I had to die before I could feel truly alive. Kinda philosophical, don’t you think?” “Jennifer, you are transitioning right now and you are still too new to your powers to be able to differentiate between this life and the life you once had. Please be careful. This is a delicate time for you.” “I will, Jon. Don’t worry. I just want to get my son back,” she says. The elevator stops and Jon walks over to his motorcycle. It, too, is all black, like most of his vehicles, and trimmed out beautifully in chrome. He turns the lever to start the gas flow to the engine and next the key to the on position for the ignition. Then he presses the electric starter button on the handlebars and the 1600cc V-Twin engine turns over. The exhaust rushes from the pipes as Jon revs it a few times to warm it up. Once it has a steady idle, Jennifer walks over to him. She hands him a leather jacket that was hanging on a wall hanger by the elevator. Jon puts on the coat and stuffs the pack of hundreds in his inner pocket. “Look, give me a few minutes head start before you leave, okay?” he instructs Jennifer. “Okay,” she replies then kisses him on the cheek. “Be careful,” she says with a concerned tone in her voice. “I will. You, too,” he says. “And remember, do not leave the car until I call you. Understood?” “Understood.” Jon presses a small button on the side of the bike and the garage door begins to open. He presses it a second time and the main gate opens. “See you in a few,” he says, then he revs the engine again and pulls out of the garage onto the street. Jennifer waits a few minutes until she can no longer hear the rumble from the motorcycle’s engine, then she too gets ready to leave. She walks around to the driver’s door of the Viper. She opens it, and then sits in the seat, adjusting it to fit her height so that she can better reach the pedals. She turns the key and the powerful V-10 engine fires up without hesitation. Once on the street she pulls over so she can stretch to the glove box and close the gates back again. As soon as she is satisfied they are closed, she heads off toward Decatur Street. She drives down through the French Quarter heading toward Canal Street. When she reaches it, she turns and heads toward the cemetery. Jon, a good bit ahead of her, is already arriving at the gates of the cemetery. He pulls the motorcycle onto the sidewalk by the main gate. He turns off the engine, then eases out of the seat, surveying his surroundings carefully for any signs of extra guests that might be waiting just inside for
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him. He has all of his senses heightened as he slowly walks up to the gate. He looks down and can see that the lock has been picked but left hooked to give the appearance of still being latched. He presses it back together locking it. The girl is a mortal so this will slow any unperceived exits on her part greatly. Such obstacles do not burden Jon. Once the gate is secured, he takes a step back and easily traverses its height with a single bound. Jon lands gently on the other side, without leaving so much as an impression on the grass as he touches down. He gets his bearing and heads across the grass toward the spot Angel had directed him to meet her. As he walks, he continues to examine his surroundings. Angel has not disappointed him; he can already sense the presence of other immortals just as he had expected he would. He reaches the appointed gravesite and it is vacant, but only just recently, for Jon can also smell the perfume Angel was wearing at the club and he knows she is still very close by. “Angel,” Jon calls out, but not too loudly. With that, a figure appears out of the darkness. “Did you bring the cash?” a female voice asks with an obvious nervousness in her tone. “It’s right here,” Jon says, patting the front of his leather jacket. “Pull it out. I want to see it.” Jon pulls out the money and holds it up to where the light of an almost full moon that just slightly illuminates the area can shine on it. “Satisfied?” Jon asks. “Toss it over here first,” the figure instructs and Jon does as requested. The figure bends to pick up the pack of bills and quickly counts it. “Okay, it’s all here,” the voice says. With that, her eyes glow red and three more figures come out from behind different crypts, all of which are Vampires. Jon knew this would be a trap and he immediately leaps toward the closest figure, catching the intended attacker off guard with his lack of hesitation. He lands directly in front of the would-be assailant who is now in full view from the light of a distant street lamp. Jon can see this is a longhaired very young Vampire of less than twenty years of being undead. The younger one lunges at Jon and Jon steps to the side slightly. The attacker misses his target, but as he passes, Jon wields a slashing blow with his now elongated fingernails, much as one would a large knife blade, slicing deeply through the side of the Vampire’s throat. He lands on the ground and rolls, holding his neck desperately, as his precious life force flows quickly from massive gash. Jon walks over and without hesitation
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twists the wounded Vampire’s head until it pops and separates from his shoulders. The body convulses momentarily, then all life ceases. Jon holds his assailant’s head by its long hair and he lunges for the next closest attacker who has a weapon of his own, a samurai sword. Jon sees the flash of the blade in the moonlight. He jumps, turning a flip just over the top of the second attacker’s swing. Jon tumbles over the blade of this new hostile and lands behind him. As soon as he touches ground Jon spins, swinging the first dead Vampire’s head furiously, and catches the second one in the back of his head. This loosens the attacker’s grip on his blade, which now falls from his grasp and knocks the unskilled attacker off balance, sending him flying into the ground. Jon moves with unparalleled speed to retrieve the sword and does so before the second assailant can get to his feet. Jon swings the blade and with a powerful blow catches his attacker at the midsection as he attempts to jump to his feet, cutting him completely in half. The two parts of the attacker’s body fall in opposite directions of each other, but the victim of the blow is still alive, squalling from the pain. Jon again moves quickly and jams the blade into the open mouth of this second Vampire with a force that causes the sword to go through the back of his skull and into the ground. This renders the Vampire silent and Jon completes the job by removing the blade and cutting off his head. Now Jon turns to face the last two, the female and the one remaining male. Both have swords, and the last male is considerably larger than Jon by at least eight inches and one hundred-twenty pounds. He is also obviously older and more skilled than his two predecessors were and his blade is one more like the ones used by soldiers from the legions of ancient Rome. Jon is sure he has faced this one before. This large one attacks ferociously, and Jon’s sword meets the other Vampire’s blade in mid-swing. Jon is knocked back slightly from the blow and almost loses his footing as he drops from the raised level of grass over the curb to the paved pathway between the tombs. His attacker is right behind him and he swings again, this time knocking the blade from Jon’s grip. Jon, now without a weapon, jumps straight up, avoiding yet another powerful blow from this huge Vampire. As his attacker lunges through his swing, Jon lands behind him and back-kicks him, sending the large attacker off balance and into the grass. Jon moves quickly and regains possession of his sword. At this moment, with Jon’s back turned to her, the female sees her opportunity to strike and does so. Her blow catches Jon off guard as she slices down the middle of Jon’s back splitting his leather coat. However, she
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has not gone deep enough to cause any real damage to Jon and cuts him only slightly, compared to the possible damage she might have done. Jon spins and catches her square in the neck with his sword, severing her head cleanly with the single blow. Jon sheds his coat then turns his attention back to his greatest threat…the last Vampire still standing. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Angel, who has been present the entire time watching this massacre from behind a crypt, now decides it time to retreat. It is obvious to her that this is probably not going to end in her favor as she had planned, so she wants to leave before Jon can get to her. She takes off across the grass, heading toward the front gate. Once she gets there, she finds that the padlock is locked and she starts to panic. “Shit! Shit!” she screams in a panicked voice as she shakes the gates. Jennifer is sitting parked just across the street from the gate and Angel’s desperate outbursts have caught her attention. She exits the car and quickly crosses the street to the gate. She gets to it as Angel is just starting to climb up in an attempt to go over the top. “Need some help?” Jennifer asks facetiously. “Oh shit! Princess, you’re alive. Help me please, there is someone back there trying to kill me.” “I can’t imagine why,” Jennifer says, continuing her sarcasm. “Sure, I’ll help you.” With that, Jennifer grabs the lock and pulls down on it hard, causing it to snap open then her eyes start to glow red from her building anger. “Oh shit. You’re one of them too,” Angel says in a state of shock. “Yes, I am, thanks to your friends,” Jennifer says as she throws open the gate. The power of the thrust causes Angel to lose her grip and she goes sailing to the ground. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jon hears the loud creaking noise of the old rusted metal as the gates swing wildly open and slam against the stone block walls that hold them. He allows his attention to be diverted only for a split second though as the last of his immortal adversaries comes at him again. “Now you will pay for your past sins, barbarian scum,” the huge Vampire says as he rushes toward Jon. “This is for my brother!”

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Jon’s eyes are glowing bright red now and he has completely transformed into the hellish beast of his creator. “Your brother got what he deserved, Antonius. Neither of you were ever a match for me, Roman, and you will die just as surely as your brother did.” “You will eat my Roman steel as I ram it down your throat, Northman!” The larger Vampire raises his blade high in preparation for his attack, but Jon stands fast, his blade held low and pointing down, waiting for his opponent to rush in for their final clash. The huge Vampire lunges at Jon with his blade held high, swinging it from right to left as he attempts to cut across Jon from shoulder to hip. The blow is powerful, skilled and fast, but not fast enough to catch Jon, who has already started to spin away from it in the same direction causing the blade to miss its mark. The momentum of the swing carries the larger Vampire forward as Jon continues to spin gaining more force and a momentum of his own. His blade finds its mark and hacks off the arm of his foe. With his arm now gone and his blade still clutched in its severed grasp, the Roman Vampire turns to face Jon. “I was there when she was Queen of Egypt and she chose me to help command one of the greatest armies in the world. She has outlived Rome and she will not be stopped by the likes of a barbarian such as you.” “You forget yourself, Roman. You feed off my scraps; it was I she sought out and chose to lead her armies, not you. You are and always were just a soldier, a follower, a mindless eunuch to be led but never to lead. I am a leader, the son of Viking royalty, a King in my land, but most of all I was always a true warrior and a commander of warriors. You were never my better, nor even my equal, and now you will die as proof of it. Join your brother in Hell!” With that, Jon lunges and strikes his fatal blow and the older Vampire’s body goes limp as his head falls to the ground. Jon stands over the body of his fallen enemy. He knows that if this one was here then Nestasia had to be close by. She would undoubtedly also know that he was here in return. Angel would surely have to know something about Chayse if she could get this one to aid her, however unsuccessfully, in tonight’s events. Jon’s attention now returns to the purpose for which he came here in the first place, Angel. But where the hell is she, Jon thinks to himself. Then he remembers the crashing sound of the gates and now he hears voices and then a woman screaming from the same direction.

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“Jennifer!” Jon says out loud and he runs across the grass back toward the entrance of the cemetery. He reaches the gate and finds Angel looking quite beat up and being held up in the air by the throat from a single hand that belongs to Jennifer. “WHERE’S MY SON, YOU FUCKING BITCH?” Jennifer screams while interrogating Angel. Angel has tears streaming down her face and can barely reply, due to Jennifer’s grip cutting off her airflow. “I don’t know,” she replies in a muffled voice as she coughs and struggles to breathe through Jennifer’s enraged grasp. “YOU’RE LYING!” Jennifer yells and she throws Angel into the stone block wall. Angel hits the wall with considerable force, knocking her almost unconscious; then she falls to the ground. Jon just stops and watches, not quite ready to intervene. He knows better than to try and stop an enraged mother who is protecting her child, especially one that carries the same blood as his own. Jennifer walks over to the girl as she lies balled up and crying on the ground and yanks her up like a rag doll. Angel’s shoulder makes a popping noise as it is dislocated and sends her into another squall of pain and tears. “AAAYYYHHH!!!” Angel continues to scream in pain. “Oh, does this hurt?” Jennifer says sarcastically, showing no remorse or pity for her pain. “Please God, please don’t kill me,” the girl begs but her pleadings fall on deaf ears as Jennifer continues to dangle her by the arm like a puppet on a string. “Before I am through with you, you will wish for death. Now I will ask you again, WHERE IS MY SON?” Angel tries to talk through her pain and tears, “I can’t tell you anything more than some woman named Nestasia has him downtown somewhere. She’s holding him for some ceremony that is supposed to take place at midnight on Friday at the height of the full moon.” “Jennifer,” Jon calls out now, distracting Jennifer for a second. Jennifer drops Angel like a stone to the ground then spins around to the sound of his voice. “Jon?” “I think that’s enough for now, Jennifer,” he says, trying to calm her. It works slightly, for a second. With Jon and Jennifer both distracted by each other, Angel manages to crawl over to her purse, which is still in the grass where she landed when
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thrown from the gate. She frantically fumbles with her one good arm as she reaches inside, attempting to retrieve a pistol that she keeps for protection. She grabs the weapon and points it directly at the back of Jennifer’s head. Both Jon and Jennifer hear the cocking noise of the hammer as Angel pulls it back into a firing position. “Alright, you fucking bitch, now it’s time for you to die, just like your son will in two days.” At the mention of her son, Jennifer becomes blindly enraged and before Angel can pull the trigger Jennifer turns and covers the distance between them with the supernatural speed of a Vampire, leaving only a blur for a target. She grabs hold of the butt of the gun, breaking the hammer like a matchstick and disabling it from firing. Then she pulls Angel to her feet. With fangs now bared and her fingernails like claws, she punches Angel in the chest breaking her sternum. The force of the blow is so great it does not stop there and Jennifer’s arm continues on pushing through until it exits through Angel’s back. Angel’s expression is one more of pure terror than pain as Jennifer pulls her arm and hand back through Angel’s body to reveal her still beating heart in her grasp. Jennifer’s rage now turns to hunger and Angel helplessly watches in horror as Jennifer digs her fangs into the meaty lump of flesh, tearing at the muscle to extract the precious reservoir of blood inside. In a matter seconds it is drained and Jennifer, still enraged, discards the heart like a piece of trash, throwing it against the stone wall where it bursts like a ripe tomato from the impact. Jennifer’s anger and lust for blood is now insatiable and she turns her attention back to Angel, who, petrified at the previous sight, somehow still manages to stand. Jennifer attacks and rips through Angel’s neck like a wild animal in an attempt to satisfy her uncontrollable thirst. Jennifer feeds until Angel is completely depleted of blood. Limp and lifeless, she releases Angel’s body, which now falls to the ground. As Angel’s empty shell lies motionless on the ground her death face reveals the horror in her eyes, still wide open and transfixed, staring at the wall and the wet spot of what was once her beating heart. Jennifer and Jon are both now back in human form and Jon walks over to her as she turns to Jon in somewhat a state of shock herself at her ability to commit such a merciless act. “Oh, dear Jesus, Jon, did I really just do that?” she asks as she grabs for him turning away from the sight of Angel’s mutilated body. Jon stares at her handiwork; personally, he feels no remorse for any of the deaths this night. However, he is also from a different time when killing
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was more natural and brutal and he has been an immortal for over a thousand years, whereas Jennifer has been one for just a few days so he does understand her turmoil. “She gave you no choice, Jennifer. You reacted on instinct,” he says, trying to comfort her, knowing that a direct shot to the head from Angel’s pistol could have killed her since she is still in an infantile state in her new form. “Jon, I didn’t kill her because of the gun, I killed her because of what she said about Chayse!” she says, still burying her face in his chest and clutching onto his arms. “Nevertheless, you still could have been killed or wounded severely. And if you had, your son might very well die, as she said, in two days. Do not lose sight of why we are here.” “I know, but it was like all of the hate I ever had just came streaming to the top and I couldn’t control it. What if this happens around Chayse? Jesus, what would I say?” Jon pulls her head up from his chest and looks at her eyes. “Jennifer, you are still transitioning, but you will learn to control these feelings soon enough and I will help you through this, I promise,” he says, stroking her hair. “Now we need to get out of here before anyone sees the mess we have made. And you badly need to get cleaned up. So get in the car and head straight back to the loft. I am right behind you on the bike.” “Okay,” she says. “Thanks Jon, really.” Jon hands her what is left of his leather jacket and instructs her to put in on to help cover up the blood that she is partially covered in. Jennifer puts on the coat and quickly crosses the street. Hastily she gets into the Viper and cranks it, then speeds off down the road. Jon turns and goes back into the cemetery. He swiftly searches for an available crypt to dump all of the bodies and their assorted severed parts. He finds one that has a huge iron door that is locked. Twisting on the handle; the lock breaks free, then he starts to gather up all of the corpses. Once they are all inside, he opens the individual vaults and starts stuffing parts into each one. He exits the tomb, closing the door behind him. He then twists the handle again in the opposite direction until it imbeds into the door latch and jams as if it were locked again. This should hide them for a while, he thinks to himself. The last thing we need right now is more police snooping around over this. Looking down at himself, he now becomes very aware that he, too, is covered in blood. He finds a water faucet and removes his shirt soaking it with water. He hastily proceeds to wipe his upper body down as best as he
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can. He exits the cemetery with his shirt still in his hands. He sees a dumpster down the road next to a business that is closed for the night. Jumping on the motorcycle he rides toward it, slowing down enough to toss the shirt into it as he passes. Then he twists the accelerator hard and quickly speeds up to avoid being seen. Jon travels over back streets until he reaches the French Quarter then stays off the regularly traversed paths of the tourists until he reaches his loft. He presses the button to open up the gate and garage then he swiftly disappears behind them. He parks the bike and jumps on the elevator, taking it all the way to the top floor and his bedroom. As he gets out of it, he sees Jennifer’s clothes lying in a scattered trail all the way to the bathroom and he hears the running water of the shower. He removes the few clothes he himself has left and heads toward the noise. “Jennifer,” he calls as he walks into the bathroom. He opens the door to the shower to find Jennifer sitting in the corner with the water just running over her. He steps inside and she jumps up and into his arms, literally leaving the ground, her feet dangling inches from the floor, as she hangs onto Jon’s neck like a scared child. “Jennifer, are you alright? Did anyone see you or stop you on the way back here?” Jennifer continues her hold, never speaking a word. Jon returns the affection, knowing that she is still in shock from the night’s events. She obviously had no problems or she would not be there, so he lets his questions drop, unanswered. Jennifer increases her embrace as they both just stand there in silence, holding each other, with the diluted red colored water swirling around the drain at their feet as the multiple showerheads wash the blood from their bodies.

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